The short answer is yes, and the long answer is it depends. In North Carolina, you must be separated for at least a year before you can obtain a divorce. During this time, many people will want to purchase a new home – but I would caution you against this unless you are confident it won’t muck up the distribution of your property.

Any earnings or property you acquired during your marriage and up to the date you separate are considered marital property and must be divided by the court. Property acquired after you separate is considered separate property, and belongs only to you. However, if you purchase a house after you separate (separate property), but use money you acquired during the marriage for a down payment or closing costs, then the new house would be partially marital and partially separate. Can you see how a crafty divorce lawyer might make this difficult for you?

I would recommend talking to a lawyer first, and perhaps requesting an “interim distribution” of your share of the financial assets. Once distributed to you, these funds are no longer at issue in the divorce and could be used to purchase a new property.