Dividing Assets & Liabilities
The vast majority of equitable distribution cases are resolved by equally splitting assets and liabilities. Keep in mind that not every asset and every liability must be evenly split; only that, overall, the parties receive an equal amount of assets and liabilities. The reason for the equal split in most cases is the statutory presumption in favor of “an equal division.” Specifically, Section 50-20 of the North Carolina Statutes states:
“There shall be an equal division by using net value of marital property and net value of divisible property unless the court determines that an equal division is not equitable.”
This is a bit of an odd provision because the law essentially says that it is fair to split assets and liabilities equally unless it isn’t. The primary purpose of this provision is to set equal distribution as the default position of the court in considering any case. In order to make the distribution unequal, the court must consider additional factors and make specific findings. The statute goes on to state that if the division is not equal, it must be equitable and gives twelve (12) factors to determine what is “equitable” in a particular case.
The factors utilized by the court to make an unequal (but equitable) division of assets and liabilities are too numerous and complex to fully discuss here. It should be noted that the final factor is a “catch-all” factor, allowing a court to consider “any other factor” that it considers just and proper to make a decision on unequal equitable distribution.
Making a Claim for Unequal Equitable Distribution
There are various situations in which an unequal distribution of marital assets and liabilities is appropriate. If you believe you have a claim for unequal (but equitable) distribution, you should retain an experienced attorney to assist you. The burden is on you to prove that the unequal distribution being sought is equitable. The attorney can assist you in preparing your claim, presenting evidence and addressing all of the above factors. Our family law lawyers at The Van Winkle Law Firm have experience with complex legal claims and litigation. We can assist you in putting forth the best possible claim for unequal distribution.