Can I Keep My House in a Divorce?


The answer to this question is not so straightforward. The true answer is, it depends.

Let’s first start by discussing what happens to property in a divorce. The marital estate consists of assets and debts acquired from the date of marriage and prior to the date of separation. The process of the division of assets is legally referred to as equitable distribution. The process of equitable distribution consists of the following steps:

  1. Identification of Assets
  2. Classification of Assets
  3. Valuation of Assets
  4. Distribution of Assets

First, identification. Identification of assets means coming up with a list of all assets and debts that belong to you and your former spouse.

Second, classification. The classification step involves the parties, the attorneys, and potentially the court, to determine whether a piece of property is marital property or separate property. Marital property is property that was obtained by the parties during the marriage. Separate property includes property that was acquired before the marriage, or gifts/inheritances.

Third, valuation. This means that a value must be placed on every piece of property listed as of the date you and your former spouse separated. This step is important because it plays a large role in dividing the assets and debts up.

Last, distribution. In North Carolina, there is a presumption that marital property should be divided equally between the parties, however, this presumption may be rebutted by either party, based on a variety of factors.

So, will you get the house? With the assumption in mind that the distribution would be equal, you may receive the home, but forfeit collection of other marital assets as to result in an even distribution of the marital estate. Another option is that the home could be sold, and the proceeds from the sale could be distributed evenly between both parties. The law of North Carolina also favors an in-kind distribution, which means a distribution of each asset, rather than a liquidation of assets.

Property division issues are often complicated issues. If you are seeking legal advice or need representation as you navigate through a divorce, please reach out to one of our skilled and experienced family law attorneys at Jetton & Meredith.