In a previous post, we talked about the requirements of receiving equitable distribution in your divorce. One factor that can help you avoid equitable distribution in North Carolina is if you and your spouse have a valid property agreement in place.

A property agreement can sometimes be found within a separation agreement, and it can also be a stand-alone document. However, it’s important to understand that the court will only accept a property agreement as grounds for exemption from equitable distribution if it meets certain conditions.

Your property settlement must:

  • Be written—oral agreements are not accepted by the court,
  • Be signed by both spouses,
  • Be signed in front of a notary public and
  • Explain how the marital property will be divided.

It’s worth noting that a separation agreement does not necessarily include a property agreement. Many separation agreements only contain information about issues such as alimony, child support and custody. Such an agreement would be insufficient to protect you from court-ordered property division.

It’s important to review your property agreement to ensure that it meets the necessary criteria. If it does not meet the requirements above, your efforts to divide and separate from your spouse amicably could be in vain if your spouse petitions the court to divide your property for you.

The divorce process can be complicated, and under North Carolina law, certain missteps could completely derail you from the outcome you were anticipating. Hiring a divorce attorney can help you and your spouse create a robust, legally binding property agreement.