Your separate property won’t get split up by the North Carolina family court when you divorce. Figuring out which assets are your separate property is an important part of the divorce process.
If you were to start making a list of your separate property, you might include the car listed in your name and the retirement account at your employer because that is also only in your name. Unfortunately, these kinds of assumptions are common but inaccurate.
The chances are good that at least part of your retirement account and the vehicle will be marital property, meaning, if nothing else, the financial value of those assets are subject to division. What can you claim as your separate property during the North Carolina divorce?
State law clearly defines marital and separate property
Almost anything you earned or purchased during your marriage is marital property. However, inheritances and gifts, even if received during the marriage, are usually separate property. The assets that you owned prior to your marriage will also be separate property that you don’t have to worry about splitting up as part of your divorce.
The name on an account or on the ownership paperwork for an asset doesn’t necessarily make it your separate property. The vehicle referenced earlier would be marital property if you used marital income to purchase it or if you bought it during your marriage. Retirement accounts often contain both separate and marital assets. You will have to figure out how much of the account balance is from during the marriage. The deposits you made before you got married may be separate property.
You need to have a paper trail for your separate assets
If you and your spouse are able to agree about who keeps what and which assets are actually separate property, there won’t be any issues with your divorce settlement.
However, if there is any kind of disagreement about what you should share and what remains separate, then you will need financial documentation to support your assertions. Ownership paperwork predating your marriage and account records going back to before you got married can play an important role in protecting your separate property during your divorce.
Learning about how the property division process works can help you push for a better outcome.