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Forensic Accounting and Divorce Proceedings

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

Even in the most amicable of separations, dividing property when a marriage ends can be a complex and intense process. In North Carolina, family courts are tasked with making an equitable distribution of marital property between spouses when a marriage dissolves. This involves classifying property as marital or separate property, determining the market value of the marital property, then dividing the marital property in accordance with numerous factors relating to each spouse’s situation, their contributions to the marriage, and fairness. For couples with a large amount of marital property, including real estate, investments, retirement accounts, deferred compensation, stock options, and/or business interests, identifying and determining the value of such property is no small task. Further, the stakes are very high as the property represents both spouses’ hard work and their …

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Top Five Reasons to Consult with a Family Law Attorney

In Child Custody, Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

We are often asked if you are required to have an attorney when going through a divorce. The simple answer—no. However, there are several reasons that having a family law attorney is very beneficial. Consider these top five reasons to consult with a family law attorney if you are considering a separation or currently going through a divorce: You may fail to preserve your legal rights on your own. Legal proceedings regarding property, spousal support, child support, and custody are governed by rules of procedure, the rules of evidence, local court rules, and the North Carolina General Statutes. There are strict deadlines and pleading requirements when it comes to these issues. Failure to meet critical deadlines, or filing improper pleadings can irreparably damage your ability to obtain legal relief that …

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Your Divorce Does Not Have to Close Your Small Business

In Separation & Divorce, Wealth by Carly Baker

Small business owners put a lot of themselves into the success of their business. They work incredibly hard, take enormous financial risks, and put aside other aspects of their lives in an effort to realize the American Dream. In essence, it becomes a part of an owner’s identity. Unfortunately, when a small business owner gets a divorce, it puts the business at the mercy of the equitable distribution proceedings. The reason for this is that for legal purposes, sole proprietorships and their owners are one in the same. In other words, when you do your business’s taxes, you do it under your personal tax return. Further, if you are sued, you are personally liable for the liabilities of your business. So if you are getting a divorce, your small business …

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A Car or Truck and Your Divorce

In Separation & Divorce by Carly Baker

When you separate, one of the issues that you have to resolve is how property is divided. This is a big deal because there can be a lot of property to sort out, and the outcome has big implications for your financial future. Further, tensions between the separating couple can make this task difficult, which can turn property claims into turf wars. A vehicle, like a car, truck, or motorcycle, is a valuable piece of property that can be a focal point when it comes to equitable distribution proceedings. This makes it a topic of great interest. There are several questions that must be answered in determining what should happen with it. These include: Is the Vehicle Marital Property? North Carolina is an equitable distribution state, which means that courts …

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Equitable Distribution: The Difference Between “Fair” and “Equal”

In Separation & Divorce, Wealth by Elizabeth Stephenson

When a married couple permanently separates and heads toward a divorce, there are a ton of emotions to unpack and sort through. These emotions are natural and can completely dominate your mental space. However, there are numerous issues that you will eventually need to face head on, including how your marital property is going to be divided. Community Property Versus Equitable Distribution There are numerous “community property” states across this country that consider all property acquired during the course of a marriage to belong equally to both spouses. Thus, this property is considered community property that is split 50-50 when the couple divorces. In fact, a lot of people have a misconception that when you divorce, you will lose (or gain) half of all property. This is not universally true. …

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How a Mortgage May Be Addressed When You Separate

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

Besides your retirement accounts, your marital home is likely the most valuable piece of property you own. You’ve likely invested a massive share of your savings and income to build equity in this important investment. When couples separate and divorce, this home becomes one of the big issues in settling the division of marital property. One of the important details, however, when figuring out how the home will be divided is what happens to the mortgage? That’s right. While a house is a giant asset, your home mortgage is one of your biggest monthly expenses. Therefore, it is important to understand the options available to address the mortgage in an equitable distribution proceeding. One Spouse Gets the Home A common scenario is for parties to agree, or for a court …

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True or False: My Wife Can’t Touch My Retirement

In Separation & Divorce, Wealth by Elizabeth Stephenson

Divorce is the worst. It really is a shock to the system in a lot of ways. There is an enormous emotional toll that accompanies the end of your valued relationship. If you are a father and your family’s breadwinner, there is the uncertainty of what will happen with your children, whether you have the strength to guide them through this experience, and the prospect of seeing them a lot less than you ever have before. Further, there is a financial toll. If you have traditionally been the primary source of income for your home, then you understand that you are about to spend a lot of money on attorneys fees, will have to split marital assets in half, and will likely have to pay alimony and child support. With …

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The Nuts and Bolts of an Equitable Distribution Proceeding

In Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

When couples separate with the intention of a divorce, one of the big issues that couples must resolve is property. Property division is handled through an equitable distribution in North Carolina, meaning all marital property is split between spouses in an equitable manner. If you are on the verge of a separation, it will be useful to understand the nuts and bolts of an equitable distribution proceeding. Is An Agreement Possible? The first scenario in which a couple may divide their property is by agreement. If they executed a prenuptial agreement prior to their marriage, then the terms of that agreement are likely to be legally binding on each spouse. If there are any unresolved issues or unaddressed property, then the couple will need to address this following their separation. …

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What Happens to Debt When I Divorce?

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

When most people think about property division and divorce, they usually think about money, houses, investments, business interests, retirement, and personal property. This is natural, as the title is “property division” and the ultimate question is: who walks away with what? Despite the focus on property, another critical question that must be resolved when dividing property is: what happens to debt? North Carolina is an Equitable Distribution State Property division in North Carolina is referred to as “equitable distribution.” This means that all property deemed “marital” property is divided in an “equitable” manner—which generally starts off as a split down the middle, followed by the court making adjustments based on numerous statutory factors that make the division fairer. While people don’t like thinking about debt, it is an issue that …

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Utilizing Family as a Support System

In Relationships, Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

Separating from your spouse can feel like an incredibly lonely experience. The emotional and physical bond with your life partner has fractured beyond repair. This means the person you likely turned to for comfort in the past is not someone who can help you now. Even if you have children, they are going through their own unique experience from your own trauma. There is also the reaction of the community, your friends, and your family members, which can range from appropriate, to silent judgment, to explicit judgment. Rely on the Support of Your Family and Friends Just because you feel alone, does not mean that you have to be alone. If you have a healthy relationship with family members and friends, use them as a support system when you separate …