Property and Debt Division Attorneys in North Carolina and South Carolina
If you are getting a divorce, it’s important to know how North Carolina and South Carolina marital property laws handle property and debt division. At Collins Family & Elder Law Group, we understand the importance of matters pertaining to your assets, and we’ll quickly help you understand your rights to prevent you being blindsided. Our legal team stands prepared to teach you everything you need to know.
Divorce can be unpredictable and even volatile, so our divorce attorneys waste no time in educating you on your rights in relation to property and debt division in NC and SC. We will be your greatest legal advocates from the start.
Property and Debt Division Laws in North and South Carolina
Defining Marital Property in NC and SC
Before heading into a marital property division, it may be of comfort to understand which of your belongings is subject to division between you and your spouse. Marital property encompasses everything you and your spouse acquired together over the course of your marriage. Examples of divisible property include:
- Real estate
Is North Carolina or South Carolina a Community Property State?
North Carolina and South Carolina are equitable distribution states, not community property states. Unlike a community property state, which divides marital assets 50/50, equitable distribution states take the time to make sure the division is fair to both parties, and they do not divide separate property. Separate property is defined as anything an outside party gives to only one spouse and includes:
- Property owned prior to the marriage
- Inherited property
- Gifts from someone other than the spouse
NC and SC courts will typically accept any fair property and debt division arrangement as long as both parties agree. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, a judge will step in and divide the marital assets between the spouses in an equitable fashion.
Factors Considered When Dividing Property
When a court is dividing marital property in NC or SC, it takes the following factors into consideration:
- The duration of the marriage
- The age and health of each spouse
- The income, property, and liabilities of each party
- Custody of the children
- The expectation of any pensions or retirement rights that are separate property
- Contributions made by one spouse to educate or advance the career of the other spouse
- Tax consequences
- Any other factor the court deems relevant
What Happens to Retirement Accounts?
In North Carolina and South Carolina, pensions are divided like all other property. Both vested and unvested pensions are marital property. If the spouses share in each other’s retirement or pension plan, then a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) must be completed.
The QDRO is a written set of instructions that explains to a plan administrator that the two parties are dividing the pension benefits. It also sets forth the terms and conditions of the distribution, including the amount of benefits each party gets, when benefits will be paid, the method of payment, and so on.
How Is Debt Divided in a North or South Carolina Divorce?
In a North or South Carolina divorce, debts are treated the same way as other property. Before dividing a debt, the judge will determine whether the debt is characterized as marital or separate property based on when it was acquired, who acquired it, and how it is used.
If the court determines that it is not the separate liability of either spouse, the court will either split it equally between the spouses or divide it in another manner that the court deems fair considering the circumstances. Our debt division lawyers are dedicated to the highest standards of ethics, professionalism, and legal excellence, and we’re here to ensure a reasonable and fair outcome for all.
When to Call a Property Mediation Attorney
Over the course of a marriage, there usually property acquired and debt accrued. If you find yourself needing to divide a complex portfolio of marital assets, the team at Collins Family & Elder Law Group employs experienced property mediation attorneys and debt division lawyers who can help. We will help you understand your rights and options and aggressively pursue your desired outcome.
Divorce can be a long, exhausting process. If you have been through an emotionally difficult separation and still need to divide property or debt, contact our team. We understand what you’re going through and will be your guide through this often complicated legal process while you focus on healing.