Is North Carolina a Community Property State?

North Carolina is not a community property state. Like the majority of states, North Carolina uses a method called equitable distribution to divide property fairly between each spouse.

States fall into one of two camps when it comes to dividing property:

  • Community property
  • Equitable distribution

North Carolina is an equitable distribution state.

Let’s explore what each means.

What is a community property state?

Community property states treat any property within a marriage as belonging equally to each party. In the event of a divorce, the property is split equally.

For example:

  • Housing
  • Cars
  • Bank accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Personal possessions
  • Debts (during the marriage)
  • Income (during the marriage)

In the event of a divorce, the default is that each of these items would be split 50/50 between the spouses.

There are currently nine community property states:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

Community property can help ensure stability after a divorce or legal separation, especially if one spouse was reliant on the other for income.

However, it may feel like an unfair outcome if one spouse had significantly more financial contributions than the other.

What is an equitable distribution state?

Equitable distribution is the more common alternative to the community property method.

Rather than dividing assets 50/50, equitable distribution seeks to divide assets (and debts) based on the financial contributions of each party.

Equitable distribution seeks to take into account:

  • The income each spouse brought into the marriage
  • Child custody and child support needs
  • Financial needs of each party

In general, the equitable distribution process offers more flexibility.

The amount that each party is entitled to depends on how they advocate for themselves.

That’s why it’s critical to work with a North Carolina divorce lawyer who can advocate for you aggressively. In equitable distribution states, strong legal representation can ensure you receive the full, fair amount you’re entitled to.

There are currently 41 states that use the equitable distribution method to divide property:

FloridaKansasNew JerseyMassachusetts
HawaiiMontanaMinnesotaNorth Carolina
IndianaSouth DakotaNew HampshireKentucky
PennsylvaniaNorth DakotaOklahomaMissouri
DelawareVirginiaOhioWest Virginia
NebraskaSouth CarolinaGeorgiaNew York
ColoradoRhode IslandIllinoisVermont

Choosing a North Carolina divorce lawyer to represent you

Since North Carolina uses the equitable distribution method, it’s vital to have an attorney who’s on your team and knows how to advocate for you aggressively.

Depending on your goals for the legal separation process, you may choose to reach a settlement through collaborative family law, or to go through the normal process in the courts.

Divorce is one of the most emotional processes you can go through, from questions of alimony and child support to property division. If you’re looking for a firm to help you navigate these difficult legal and financial challenges, reach out for a consultation today.