Equitable Distribution and Complex Property

In Separation & Divorce, Wealth by Elizabeth Stephenson

You work hard in your life to build a career, to invest wisely, and to build wealth for your future. That is why when you decide to separate and divorce, you want to make sure that you leave the marriage with every cent to which you are legally entitled. One of the critical issues that must be resolved when a marriage ends is marital property. In other words, who walks away with what?

In North Carolina, these issues can be settled by agreement, or if an agreement cannot be reached, then it can go before a court that will make an equitable distribution of marital property. This is generally a 50/50 split of the net value of marital property unless the evidence supports that the court should split it differently. Marital property includes property “acquired by either spouse or both spouses during the course of the marriage and before the date of the separation” and includes:

  • Real estate purchased by the parties as tenants by the entirety during the marriage;
  • All pension, retirement, and deferred compensation earned during the marriage; and
  • All other property acquired during the marriage that is not classified as separate property.

When attorneys prepare the equitable distribution inventory for their clients, there are two critical considerations: (1) the classification of property as separate or marital property; and (2) determining the market value of marital property.

Fair Market Value

Courts base their net value on the total fair market value of marital property at the date of separation. Determining the fair market value of marital property is a hard fought and complicated element of property division, especially with large marital estates. While there are types of property that are relatively straight forward, like cash, savings accounts, bonds, and stocks, it is significantly more challenging to value complex assets, such as real estate, fine art, goodwill, WHAT IS GOODWILL? and business interests. However, these are often the most valuable marital assets, which makes an accurate and compelling valuation so important.

When it comes to these complex assets, family law attorneys utilize qualified appraisers to conduct valuations. These are highly respected, experienced, and often certified experts who understand these assets and the market. There are various valuation methods and techniques that these appraisers use to create reports for courts. These approaches may look at the sales of comparable property in the market, the cost of the property, or the income of the property. The methodology will really depend on the type of asset.

Contact New Direction Family Law

Your marital property is your financial lifeline to surviving after your divorce. Don’t take unnecessary chances when it comes to your future, let us assist you. At New Direction Family Law, we understand the intricacies of equitable distribution, including how to value complex properties. We want to help you move forward. Our firm proudly serves Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Call New Direction Family Law today at (919) 719-3470 to schedule an appointment or visit us at our website.