Identifying and Protecting Marital Property when You Separate

In Separation & Divorce by Christopher R. Hicks

The end of a marriage can cause people to act well outside of their character. The combination of anger, denial, guilt, and sadness can manifest itself into bad decisions. One of the places we have seen this arise is marital property. Specifically, we have seen spouses destroy, hide, transfer, or waste property when it becomes clear that divorce is in the cards. It is therefore critical that you enter your separation both informed and ready to protect your own property interests.

North Carolina is an equitable distribution state, which entitles each spouse an “equitable” share of all marital property. This is property and income that the couple earned or acquired between their date of marriage and their date of separation. To identify and protect your marital property, you should consider the following steps.

Step 1:  Contact a Family Law Attorney

You have important and time-sensitive legal rights. Regarding your marital property rights, an attorney can help you obtain any temporary orders necessary to protect your property rights and to make sure that your legal interests are preserved. Your attorney can also advise you of mistakes and decisions you should avoid when it comes to property following your separation.

Step 2:  Create an Inventory of All Significant Property

Creating a comprehensive inventory of all of your property is a tedious, but essential task. Part of this means tracking down records of purchases, tax returns, bank and investment accounts, pensions, business interests, etc. Your attorney can help you parse through your records and paper trail to determine what you should claim as separate versus marital property.

Step 3: Look for Unusual Activity

From the time you separate from your spouse (and even before), you should be vigilant of unusual activity regarding your separate and marital property. This includes transfers, withdrawals, sales, or property going missing. Also check your credit report for any new loans or debts. If you become aware of anything suspect, contact your attorney immediately to explore your next steps.         

New Direction Family Law New Direction Family Law provides high quality representation regarding family law matters. If you are in need of legal assistance, contact us today. Our attorneys are smart, experienced, and focused on providing effective advocacy on the behalf of our clients. Our firm serves Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Call New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation or visit our website.