As you move through the divorce process, you may wonder if you can modify your divorce’s property division later. Getting divorced can be stressful, and you may feel a weight lifted off your shoulders once it’s over and done. However, it’s important to understand what happens once your divorce is made final by the court. Property division is one element of a divorce that is very hard to change once the divorce is finalized.
Property Division in North Carolina Divorces
During a divorce, you have two main options for dividing up your marital property. You can let the judge use the equitable distribution method, or you can agree on some other method with your spouse.
The equitable distribution method requires the judge to consider a list of factors that could affect who receives which property. For example, the judge evaluates both spouse’s physical and mental health, whether one spouse will have custody of a child from the marriage, and how long the marriage lasted. All these factors are weighed, and then the judge makes a final decision about who should keep which assets. Equitable distribution may not result in a 50/50 split of your marital property.
People getting a divorce are not always happy with the results of the equitable distribution method. You won’t necessarily receive exactly half of your joint assets. Moreover, a judge may not consider personal preferences or your feelings when making the order for property division. You might end up receiving assets that you never wanted and won’t use. Or you could feel like you got the short end of the stick, receiving less than you deserved. That is why you should understand at the outset of the divorce process that property division orders are very hard to change.
A Property Division Order Is Final – Plan Ahead!
North Carolina courts are extremely reluctant to alter property division orders in divorces, so it is important to plan ahead in your divorce. Only under very rare circumstances will a court agree to alter an order like this. In contrast, courts may alter alimony or child support orders if there is a substantial change in circumstances (such as a big change in your income).
Because property division orders typically can’t be changed, you should take the division of your marital property very seriously during divorce. As mentioned above, you can agree with your spouse that you don’t want a judge to divide the property. You and your lawyers can work together to craft your own property division that doesn’t follow the equitable distribution rules. While you still have to get it approved by the judge, there are good chances that it will be accepted by the judge since you both agreed on it.
Agreeing on Property Division During Divorce
If you’re interested in reaching an agreement with your spouse about property division, you need a good divorce lawyer. Your lawyer can help you negotiate and exchange ideas with your spouse. He or she may set up an in-person meeting with your spouse and his or her lawyer to hash out the details. Or your lawyer might suggest divorce mediation, collaborative divorce, or another alternative dispute resolution method.
If you and your spouse are unable to agree on property division, you’ll need to ask the court to decide for you. Since the judge has to apply the equitable distribution method, your lawyer can advise you on how to present the best case for distribution in a way that meets your needs. He or she will help you gather evidence, such as a full picture of your finances, for the court to consider in making a decision.
Because property division orders are final, it’s important to sort out all the details ahead of time. Don’t risk an equitable distribution order that you think is unfair. And save yourself the worry of handling a divorce yourself. Hire an experienced divorce lawyer who can assist you through every step of the divorce process.
Need Legal Advice? New Direction Family Law Is Here to Help
Do you need legal assistance with your divorce? Reach out to New Direction Family Law’s team of compassionate professionals. With decades of combined legal experience, our attorneys knowledgeably and effectively practice North Carolina divorce and family law. We will work hard toward your best outcome and help you understand your legal rights. Contact New Direction Family Law at (919) 646-6561 to schedule a consultation, or visit us at our website.