If you and your spouse intend to divorce, it is essential to take a smart, thoughtful approach to divide your property. You have significant legal rights that were created when you got married, which will have a long-term effect on your financial health and future.
In North Carolina, courts divide property using the equitable distribution method. This approach takes the fair market value of all marital property between couples, then allows a court to divide it between the spouses in an “equitable” manner. While the presumption is a 50-50 split of marital property, courts have the discretion to stray from this based on numerous factors
Equitable Distribution Inventory
As mentioned above, courts can divide marital property when a couple divorces. Except for gifts and inheritance, marital property is all of the property, earnings, and debt acquired between the date of marriage and the date of separation. In contrast, all property that each spouse brings into a marriage remains the “separate property” of that spouse and not subject to equitable distribution. Consequently, the classification of property as marital or separate is among the critical questions that spouses must resolve. A critical part of this process is the preparation and submission of an equitable distribution affidavit.
An equitable distribution affidavit is a sworn legal document that each spouse must create, then file and serve upon the other spouse. It is a document intended to provide each party notice of the following information:
- A reasonably detailed listing of ALL assets owned on the date of separation. This may include houses, vehicles, bank accounts, investments, retirement accounts, collectibles, etc.
- A listing of all debts owed and the creditor that owns the debt.
- Whether there is a debt or lien on an asset and how much.
- A classification of each asset or debt as separate property or marital property.
- The fair market value of each asset.
- An assertion of whether the court should give an asset or debt to the husband or wife.
If you are the first to file a lawsuit for equitable distribution, then you are responsible for filing your affidavit within 90 days of serving your spouse with the lawsuit. Then, your spouse has 30 days to file an affidavit in response.
If you own any valuable or complex assets, you need to speak with an attorney. Your equitable distribution affidavit is a legal document that you are attesting to under oath. It is critical to provide a complete and accurate listing of assets and debts for the court to protect your rights. Also, a family lawyer can help you utilize experts to help you classify and appraise your property following accepted practices.
Contact New Direction Family Law
New Direction Family Law helps men and women resolve the myriad of issues that arise at the end of a marriage. Equitable distribution represents a complex and critical issue that must be addressed properly. You have strong legal rights and our attorneys appreciate this. We pride ourselves in providing smart, responsive, and effective representation to our clients. Let us serve you. We represent men and women throughout Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Call us at (919) 719-3470 to schedule an appointment or visit us online through our website.