Going through a divorce is never easy, but splitting up a lifetime of memories can be even more challenging. In many cases, dividing your real estate, retirement and investment accounts, or bank balances is so much easier. After all, splitting a bank balance down the middle is straightforward and unemotional. But divvying up all of the sentimental items you've collected as a couple during your marriage can be challenging.
Dividing Property in North Carolina
In North Carolina, any property or assets a couple acquires during their marriage is typically considered marital property. Both spouses have an equal claim to marital property during a divorce. The same goes for debt acquired during the marriage. However, property that either party brought into the marriage, inherited, or received as a gift is generally treated as separate property and owned only by the spouse that acquired it.
In many cases, a court will split a couple's marital property equally between the couple. But the court will also consider:
- Each spouse's income,
- Child or spousal support owed from previous relationships,
- The liquidity of assets,
- Who will remain in the marital home,
- How much each spouse worked to contribute, and
- A spouse's contribution to the other's education or career.
When dividing property, Gaston and Cleveland County courts typically won't consider actions that led to the end of the marriage, like adultery. However, the courts will consider actions that led to the depletion of marital assets like gambling, compulsive spending, or addiction.
Dividing Sentimental Items
When it comes to dividing sentimental items from marriage, there is no specific North Carolina law. Instead, a couple should work collaboratively to divide their mementos. Couples should be creative and collaborative.
- Pick your priorities: Each of you should make a list of the top items you want. You may not even have the same wish list, making division easier and relatively conflict-free.
- Give sentimental items to the kids: If you can't decide who should have that christening dress or the first pair of shoes, agree to give them to your children.
- Share if you can: If you both want the family photo albums, scan all of your photos and set up an online album. If you already have a large digital stash, consider cloud-based storage that you can both access.
- You can own property jointly: You don't have to sell that vacation home you both love. You can both agree to continue owning it jointly if you think you can do so without conflict. Maybe one of you can pay rent and live in it, or perhaps you can agree to rent it out.
It's most important to communicate and collaborate while you're trying to split up the things most personal to both of you.
If you're contemplating divorce or have already started the process, you need experienced legal advice. Whether you're in the Shelby or Gastonia area, we can help. Contact Caulder & Valentine online or give us a call and set up a consultation.