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Collaborative Divorce

Equitable Distribution When people consider divorce in North Carolina, they may focus on things like alimony, child support, and who gets the kids. That’s understandable. It makes sense to center on your immediate needs and daily life.

And yet, it’s imperative not to concentrate solely on the small numbers and miss the big picture and the truly big financial considerations. Some of the most contentious litigation in Family Court involves property distribution through a process called Equitable Distribution in North Carolina or “ED.”

“That may expose a fundamental misunderstanding of the North Carolina divorce laws. Equity and what is ‘equitable’ does not necessarily mean 1/2. Part of legal representation for divorce includes explaining differences between a marital asset, separate property, and divisible property.”

– Bill Powers

Equitable Distribution Orders in North Carolina

In considering whether an Equitable Distribution Order or “ED Order” is consistent with North Carolina divorce laws, the NC Court of Appeals upholds the Family Court ruling if it is supported by competent evidence. Except for instances of a “clear abuse of discretion,” Equitable Distribution is deemed to be in the discretion of the Family Court Judge.

As such, rulings on Equitable Distribution supported by reason and competent inquiry will be upheld, as are those family court rulings that comply with the NC divorce statute. Absent that, a family law attorney likely be unable to challenge the Court’s ruling.

The family court Judge must comply with N.C.G.S. 50-20(c) and the twelve factors (and subsections) pertaining to Equitable Distribution. Those factors include things like:

  • Income of the parties at the time of division of property
  • Property and financial liabilities
  • Support obligations from a prior marriage
  • Length (duration) of the marriage
  • Age of the parties, their mental health, and physical health
  • Need of the custodial parent to occupy (or own) the marital household/residence
  • Retirement Accounts, 401(k), Pensions, and Deferred Compensation
  • Marital Waste, Neglect of Marital Property, or Devaluation of Marital Property
  • Efforts by the parties to Preserve, Develop, Maintain, or Expand Marital Property
  • Any other factor or consideration the Family Court deems just and proper

North Carolina Family Laws – Distribution of Property

How is Equitable Distribution in North Carolina Decided?

ED is considered to be a 3 step process:

  1. Classification of the Property as Separate Property, Marital Property, or Divisible Property; and,
  2. Determine the Net Value of the Property; and,
  3. Distribution of Property in Equitable Manner

In determining #2 as to Net Value, the family court Judge calculates the “net fair market value” of any property through evidence presented by the parties.

Is Expert Testimony Required for Equitable Distribution?

While common, there are instances when expert testimony is not required in determining the net value of marital property or assets. An individual owner of the property is deemed competent to testify about the value of his or her own property, even if they would not necessarily qualify as an “expert” under N.C. Rule of Evidence 702.

“An owner is entitled to provide testimony regarding the value of his own property, unless it is clear they do not know the value. One cannot give an unsubstantiated opinion and therefore requires supporting facts.”

– Bill Powers, Charlotte Divorce Attorney

Equitable Distribution NC – Self Valuation and Equitable Distribution

Bill Powers – Divorce Lawyer Charlotte NC

One of the more intricate aspects of separation and an eventual divorce involves the classification and distribution of assets. Indeed, determining what is a marital asset vs personal property can be the subject of contentious litigation, as was evidenced in the Beasley vs. Beasley ruling.

“If you have questions about separation and divorce, we’re here to help. It’s easy to confuse alimony, support, and ED in North Carolina. Given the potential long-term consequences of an ED ruling in family court, it’s imperative to begin determining assets of the marital estate almost immediately.”

Bill Powers

Call Bill Powers NOW: 704-342-4357

Client Reviews
I am so fortunate to have had Bill Powers on my case. Upon our first meeting, Bill insisted that through the emotions of anger, sadness, confusion, and betrayal that I remain resilient. He was available to answer questions with researched, logical, truthful answers throughout our two-year stretch together. I went to any lengths for my case because he won my trust almost immediately. JR
I contacted over 20 attorneys and Bill Powers was the only one that got back to me and was willing to help. He was kind and professional. He helped me get answers that I have been trying to get for years. I am so thankful for all his help and would recommend him easily. Simply FANTASTIC. EP
Bill Powers contacted me very shortly after I submitted an inquiry. He is incredibly knowledgeable about laws and all the requirements in North Carolina. When working with him, he patiently answered any and all questions I had in great detail. I always had the feeling he was looking to help ME, and not all about business. I would HIGHLY recommend Bill Powers and his law firm to anyone needing help in the area. You will be very happy with the result! CL