North Carolina Family Law Statutes
Powers and Liabilities of Married Persons.
§ 52-1. Property of married persons secured.
The real and personal property of any married person in this
State, acquired before marriage or to which he or she may after
marriage become in any manner entitled, shall be and remain the
sole and separate estate and property of such married person and
may be devised, bequeathed and conveyed by such married person
subject to G.S. 50-20 and such other regulations and limitations
as the General Assembly may prescribe. (Const., Art. X, s. 6;
Rev., s. 2093; C.S., s. 2506; 1965, c. 878, s. 1; 1981, c. 815, s.
§ 52-2. Capacity to contract.
Subject to the provisions of G.S. 52-10 or 52-10.1, G.S. 39-7
and other regulations and limitations now or hereafter prescribed
by the General Assembly, every married person is authorized to
contract and deal so as to affect his or her real and personal
property in the same manner and with the same effect as if he or
she were unmarried. (1871-2, c. 193, s. 17; Code, s. 1826; Rev.,
s. 2094; 1911, c. 109; C.S., s. 2507; 1945, c. 73, s. 16; 1965, c.
878, s. 1; 1977, c. 375, s. 13.)
§ 52-3. Married person may insure spouse's life.
Any married person in his or her own name, or in the name of a
trustee with his assent, may cause to be insured for any definite
time the life of his or her spouse, for his or her sole and
separate use, and may dispose of the interest in the same by will.
(Rev., s. 2099; C.S., s. 2512; 1965, c. 878, s. 1.)
§ 52-4. Earnings and damages.
The earnings of a married person by virtue of any contract for
his or her personal service, and any damages for personal
injuries, or other tort sustained by either, can be recovered by
such person suing alone, and such earnings or recovery shall be
his or her sole and separate property. (1913, c. 13, s. 1; C.S.,
s. 2513; 1965, c. 878, s. 1.)
§ 52-5. Torts between husband and wife.
A husband and wife have a cause of action against each other to
recover damages sustained to their person or property as if they
were unmarried. (1951, c. 263; 1965, c. 878, s. 1.)
§ 52-5.1. Tort actions between husband and wife arising out
of acts occurring outside State.
A husband and wife shall have a cause of action against each
other to recover damages for personal injury, property damage or
wrongful death arising out of acts occurring outside of North
Carolina, and such action may be brought in this State when both
were domiciled in North Carolina at the time of such acts. (1967,
§ 52-6. Repealed by Session Laws 1977, c. 375, s. 1,
effective January 1, 1978.
§ 52-7. Validation of certificates of notaries public as to
contracts or conveyances between husband and wife.
Any contract between husband and wife coming within the
provisions of G.S. 52-6, executed prior to the first day of
January, 1955, acknowledged before a notary public and containing
a certificate of the notary public of his conclusions and findings
of fact that such conveyance is not unreasonable or injurious to
the wife, is hereby in all respects validated and confirmed, to
the same extent as though said certifying officer were one of the
officers named in G.S. 52-6. (1955, c. 380; 1965, c. 878, s. 1.)
§ 52-8. Validation of contracts failing to comply with
provisions of former § 52-6.
Any contract between husband and wife coming within the
provisions of G.S. 52-6 executed between January 1, 1930, and
January 1, 1978, which does not comply with the requirement of a
private examination of the wife or with the requirements that
there be findings that such a contract between a husband and wife
is not unreasonable or injurious to the wife and which is in all
other respects regular is hereby validated and confirmed to the
same extent as if the examination of the wife had been separate
and apart from the husband. This section shall not affect pending
litigation. (1957, c. 1178; 1959, c. 1306; 1965, c. 207; c. 878,
s. 1; 1967, c. 1183, s. 1; 1971, c. 101; 1973, c. 1387, s. 1;
1975, c. 495, s. 1; 1977, c. 375, s. 15; 1981, c. 599, s. 16.)
§ 52-9. Effect of absolute divorce decree on certificate
failing to comply with § 52-6.
Whenever it appears that, since the execution of a contract
between a husband and wife in which the certificate of
acknowledgment thereof fails to comply with the requirements of
G.S. 52-6, a valid decree of absolute divorce between said husband
and wife has been rendered, no action shall be maintained by her
or anyone claiming under her for the recovery of the possession
of, or to establish title to any interest in any property
described in such contract unless such action is commenced within
seven years after such decree of absolute divorce has become final
or unless such action is commenced before January 1, 1978,
whichever date is earlier. (1957, c. 1260; 1965, c. 878, s. 1;
1977, c. 375, s. 14.)
§ 52-10. Contracts between husband and wife generally;
(a) Contracts between husband and wife not inconsistent with
public policy are valid, and any persons of full age about to be
married and married persons may, with or without a valuable
consideration, release and quitclaim such rights which they might
respectively acquire or may have acquired by marriage in the
property of each other; and such releases may be pleaded in bar of
any action or proceeding for the recovery of the rights and estate
so released. No contract or release between husband and wife made
during their coverture shall be valid to affect or change any part
of the real estate of either spouse, or the accruing income
thereof for a longer time than three years next ensuing the making
of such contract or release, unless it is in writing and is
acknowledged by both parties before a certifying officer.
(b) Such certifying officer shall be a notary public, or a
justice, judge, magistrate, clerk, assistant clerk or deputy clerk
of the General Court of Justice, or the equivalent or
corresponding officers of the state, territory or foreign country
where the acknowledgment is made. Such officer must not be a party
to the contract.
(c) This section shall not apply to any judgment of the superior
court or other State court of competent jurisdiction, which, by
reason of its being consented to by a husband and wife, or their
attorneys, may be construed to constitute a contract or release
between such husband and wife. (1871-2, c. 193, s. 28; Code, s.
1836; Rev., s. 2108; C.S., s. 2516; 1959, c. 879, s. 12; 1965, c.
878, s. 1; 1977, c. 375, s. 2.)
§ 52-10.1. Separation agreements.
Any married couple is hereby authorized to execute a
separation agreement not inconsistent with public policy which
shall be legal, valid, and binding in all respects; provided, that
the separation agreement must be in writing and acknowledged by
both parties before a certifying officer as defined in G.S.
52-10(b). Such certifying officer must not be a party to the
contract. This section shall not apply to any judgment of the
superior court or other State court of competent jurisdiction,
which, by reason of its being consented to by a husband and wife,
or their attorneys, may be construed to constitute a separation
agreement between such husband and wife. (1965, c. 803; 1977, c.
375, s. 3.)
§ 52-10.2. Resumption of marital relations defined.
"Resumption of marital relations" shall be defined
as voluntary renewal of the husband and wife relationship, as
shown by the totality of the circumstances. Isolated incidents of
sexual intercourse between the parties shall not constitute
resumption of marital relations. (1987, c. 664, s. 1.)
§ 52-11. Antenuptial contracts and torts.
The liability of a married person for any debts owing, or
contracts made or damages incurred before marriage shall not be
impaired or altered by such marriage. No person shall by marriage
incur any liability for any debts owing, or contracts made, or for
wrongs done by his or her spouse before the marriage. (1871-2, c.
193, ss. 13, 14; Code, ss. 1822, 1823; Rev., ss. 2101, 2106; C.S.,
s. 2517; 1965, c. 878, s. 1.)
§ 52-12. Postnuptial crimes and torts.
No married person shall be liable for damages accruing from
any tort committed by his or her spouse, or for any costs or fines
incurred in any criminal proceeding against such spouse. (1871-2,
c. 193, s. 25; Code, s. 1833; Rev., s. 2105; C.S., s. 2518; 1921,
c. 102; 1965, c. 878, s. 1.)
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