Is the division of property always fifty-fifty? What factors are considered in an unequal distribution of property?
Equitable distribution law presumes that an equal (50/50) division of the marital property will be equitable. Most judges in this state favor awarding each party fifty percent of the marital property will be equitable. Most judges in this state favor awarding each party fifty percent of the marital property, unless certain factors make a good case for an unequal distribution.
There are a number of so-called “equitable distribution factors” in our equitable distribution statute that can justify a judge’s unequal (non-50/50) distribution of marital property. The trial court is only required to consider the distributional factors on which evidence is presented.
The factors to be considered in an unequal division are enumerated in section 50-20(c) at sub-sections (1) through (12) of the North Carolina General Statutes, and these factors include:
- the parties’ financial condition at the time the division of property would be effective;
- support obligations from a prior marriage;
- length of this marriage; age and health of the parties;
- need of a custodial parent to occupy or own the marital residence for the benefit of the parties’ child or children;
- the expectation of nonvested pension rights;
- a party’s contributions to the acquisition of property;
- a party’s contributions to the education or career of the other spouse;
- any direct contribution to the increase in value of the other party’s separate property;
- the relative liquidity of the marital estate;
- the difficulty of evaluating business interests and the economic desirability of distributing such an asset to one party, “intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party”;
- tax consequences;
- acts to maintain or devalue marital property occurring after the date of separation;
- and any other factor deemed by the court to be just and proper.