When couples separate with the intention of divorcing, dividing property can be one of the most time consuming tasks and a source of ongoing litigation. North Carolina is an equitable distribution state. This means that when the issue of property division is brought before a court, the court looks at all marital property and makes an equitable division between the former spouses. One of the first steps in a property division case is for parties to identify their property for the court. This is done by submitting equitable distribution affidavits to the court.
What is an Equitable Distribution Inventory?
The North Carolina General Statutes provide that “Within 90 days after service of a claim for equitable distribution, the party who first asserts the claim shall prepare and serve upon the opposing party an equitable distribution inventory affidavit listing all property claimed by the party to be marital property and all property claimed by the party to be separate property, and the estimated date-of-separation fair market value of each item of marital and separate property.” The other party in the case is also required to file an inventory affidavit in response within 30 days. There are several things to keep in mind regarding equitable distributions affidavits.
- This document is an incredibly important document that gives the court the lay of the land by identifying ALL property known to the party, both marital and separate. It is advisable to work closely with an attorney to identify property, estimate its fair market value as of the date of separation, and to prepare the affidavit.
- Significantly, this is an affidavit, meaning you are swearing to the truth of its contents, and you are signing your name to the notarized document. Failure to disclose all known marital and separate property or attempting to hide property not only damages a party’s credibility with the court, but it also subjects the party to sanctions for lying in a sworn document.
- It is important to note that a party is filling this affidavit out to the best of their knowledge and estimating the value of the property. This does not mean that the estimated values are binding on the parties, or that a failure to list unknown property will deprive a court of the ability to consider that property when making its property division.
- Parties can seek an extension to file their affidavits upon a showing of “good cause”. This is not an uncommon option, especially with large marital estates or assets that are complicated to value.
- Parties can amend their inventory affidavits over time if they discover property, realize a mistake, or want to update their fair market value estimates.
New Direction Family Law
New Direction Family Law represents clients in family law disputes, including property division proceedings. You are entitled to an equitable division of marital property. This is your legal right and can mean a great deal for your financial future. We take these matters very seriously and understand how important this is to you. Let us help you exercise your legal rights. We have built a reputation as strong, smart advocates for our clients and want to help you. We serve Wake, Johnston, Lee, Harnett, Cumberland, Nash, Granville, Franklin, and Durham counties. Call New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation, or contact us at our website.