In North Carolina, joint assets are distributed equitably in a final divorce settlement. If an item is considered to be a separate asset, whoever owns it at the time of the divorce is typically allowed to keep it. There are three common scenarios in which an asset will be declared separate property.
Did you own the asset prior to the marriage?
If you brought an asset into the marriage, you typically get to keep it when the relationship ends. However, this assumes that it wasn’t commingled before the marriage was dissolved. Your attorney may provide more insight into how you can prevent your property from losing its separate status.
Did you inherit property during a marriage?
Anything that is inherited from another person during the course of a marriage will not be subject to asset division rules. To protect against commingling, it may be a good idea to put an inheritance in a trust. Alternatively, you can keep financial gifts in a bank account that only has your name on it.
Do you have a prenuptial agreement?
A prenuptial agreement can be used to deem certain assets to be separate property even if the law otherwise considers them to be joint assets. For instance, you may be able to retain full ownership of a business by declaring it your sole property in such an agreement.
If you are going through a divorce, it’s generally a good idea to hire an attorney to help negotiate a settlement. He or she may be able to help you obtain a significant share of the marital property. At the same time, a lawyer also may be able to help you retain any assets that were acquired before the marriage began.