North Carolina law provides for the equitable distribution of marital property when a couple gets a divorce divorced. The court divides property into three categories for purposes of property division. Marital property includes real and personal property acquired by either or both spouses during the course of the marriage. Separate property includes real and personal property acquired by a spouse either before the marriage began or by gift, devise or descent during the marriage. Divisible property includes some passive income and other types of property that don't strictly fit the definitions of the other categories.
Pensions, retirement plans and other deferred compensation instruments are generally considered marital property to the extent they've been acquired during the term of the marriage. Property that was acquired as a gift from one spouse to the other is separate property only if the intention that it be separate property was made clear in the conveyance.
The court will divide marital property and divisible property equally unless it makes a determination that an equal division would be inequitable. In making a division based on fairness, the court will consider the assets, liabilities and income of each of the parties, the length of the marriage, the mental and physical health of the parties, preexisting child support obligations and several other factors.
The law allows the parties to divide property by agreement between themselves at any time before, during or after the marriage. Any such agreement must be in writing to be effective, and must meet certain other requirements. An attorney with experience in family law may be able to help a divorcing spouse categorize assets or negotiate a property division settlement.