Stand Up For Your Interests In The Equitable Distribution Process
Divorce can be emotionally painful, but it is also logistically complicated. Perhaps the thorniest step in the divorce process, besides establishing a child custody arrangement, is the distribution of property between two parties who previously operated as one.
At Dobson Law Firm, PLLC, we offer an empathetic guiding hand as you navigate the divorce process. We will help you stand up for your financial interests during this painful time so that you have the resources you need to start the next chapter of your life on the right foot.
Understanding What ‘Equitable Distribution’ Means
In North Carolina, as in most (but not all) states, the division of marital property is guided by the principle of “equitable distribution.” It’s important to understand that equitable distribution in this context does not mean equal distribution – your shared property will not simply be split 50/50 between you and your spouse. Instead, the family court system will consider your case holistically, assessing the value of your assets as well as the role that each spouse has played in the marriage’s finances – income earned, unpaid time spent maintaining the household or raising children as well as other factors.
Generally, there are three steps to equitable distribution:
- Identifying and characterizing each asset as marital or separate
- Valuing each item that is marital
- Distributing all divisible assets equitably or, alternatively, ordering a monetary award from one spouse to another to adjust their financial positions in accordance with the court’s decision.
Categorizing property can be complicated. Generally, property owned prior to the marriage is not considered marital property. However, that can change. If both spouses reside in the house and contribute to the mortgage, a portion or all of the property can change into marital property. The same applies with rental property. Say a spouse owns a house that they rented out prior to the marriage. If the spouse has no active role in managing the property and just accepts checks from a property manager, that rental property will likely continue to be nonmarital property. However, if the spouse regularly performs repairs and maintenance on the rental property, actively participates in getting it rented out or partakes in an active role for management, the property can become marital property.
Value of the property can also be heavily disputed. Property can be sentimental to one party, who places a high value on it, while the other party places it at “market value.” This can make determining the value very difficult. It is important to have an attorney who can help you work through these issues.
Learn More About Equitable Distribution At A Free Consultation
If divorce is threatening to radically alter your financial life, it’s in your best interests to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. We will help you navigate this process and stand up for your financial interests. To schedule a free initial consultation with our firm, call 984-297-0075 or contact our office by email.
From our office in Raleigh, we represent clients throughout central North Carolina.