Marriages sometimes break down because trust between the couple has been irreparably broken. Both during marriage and divorce proceedings, spouses can amplify this problem with financial impropriety. This includes financial misconduct by a spouse aimed at depriving the other spouse of their share of the marital estate. Uncovering impropriety like hidden property requires a thorough and experienced family law attorney.
Equitable Distribution Gives Each Spouse a Stake in Marital Property
When a couple divorces in North Carolina, the court implements a system of property division referred to as “equitable distribution”. Courts will look at a complete inventory of all property and debts acquired during the marriage (by either spouse), then divide the fair market value of all this “marital property” equally between them. However, courts can deviate from this 50/50 split if it is “equitable” to do so.
The idea for equitable distribution comes from the theory that even if one spouse was the “breadwinner”, both spouses contributed to the marriage and success of one another. Therefore, each should have a property stake in everything earned while married.
Hidden Property Deprives the Wronged Spouse
For a spouse to truly walk away with what they are entitled, a complete and accurate inventory of marital property is necessary for couples’ and the court’s consideration. Unfortunately, that cannot happen when a spouse has assets the other spouse does not know about or has hidden property for purposes of their divorce.
This happens far too often and can be a surprisingly easy occurrence. In many relationships, there is one spouse who handles the bulk of the couple’s finances—in making money, investing money, and keeping track of money. One spouse may be entirely oblivious to another spouse’s redirection of income or property to separate accounts, to third parties, to other property, to funding an affair, or to cash that they stash away.
In addition to hidden property, we frequently see spouses who have hidden considerable debt from the other spouse. This has included debts the other spouse was oblivious to, like credit cards, business loans, loans using the marital property as collateral, and even mortgages! This can be a big problem that wipes out the value of the marital estate at no fault of the wronged spouse.
Courts take fraudulent behavior and financial misconduct very seriously. There are various orders a court can enter to hold the wrongdoing spouse accountable and compensate the wronged spouse accordingly. At New Direction Family Law, we understand that our clients deserve a complete picture of the marital estate. If we suspect financial impropriety, we will conduct discovery and take the legal steps necessary to follow the paper trail to bring the necessary evidence to the court’s attention.
Let New Direction Family Law Assist You
New Direction Family Law provides family law representation to men and women in Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Our attorneys have decades of combined legal experience and have handled divorces of all levels of wealth and complexity. You have significant legal rights that we want to protect so you can move forward. For experienced, knowledgeable representation, call New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 to schedule an appointment or visit us online at our website.