Equitable distribution is the method North Carolina courts use to divide marital property between divorcing spouses. The purpose of equitable distribution is to divide marital property and debts equitably based on the relative positions of each party at the time of separation. In an equitable distribution case, the court will make a determination of what is marital and divisible property. All property will be classified, valued, and distributed between the parties. Generally, the court will divide the property equally unless it is shown that equal is not equitable in the particular circumstances. In addition, property division is not fault-based and the court will not consider marital misconduct in making an equitable distribution determination.
A claim for equitable distribution can only be filed post-separation, meaning that the parties cannot be living together. Further, a claim for equitable distribution must be filed prior to entry of a divorce judgment. Unless already filed, the entry of a divorce judgment terminates any claim for equitable distribution. If you are considering divorce, it is very important that you speak with an attorney to be sure you do not inadvertently waive any rights or claims you may have.