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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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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. …

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Do I Need a Lawyer for Property Division?

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

Dividing property when you separate from a spouse can be an awkward, intricate, and adversarial process. While emotions are still simmering from the separation, you must determine what property you both own, who the property actually belongs to, what it is worth, and who should walk away with it. In short, the timing is terrible and there is simultaneously little margin for error on decisions that could make or break your financial future. With that in mind, it should go without saying that you should at least think about hiring an attorney. How Does Property Division Work in North Carolina? North Carolina employs an “equitable distribution” method of dividing marital property. This generally means that all property obtained or earned during a marriage is spilt equally between separating spouses. However, …

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What if My Separated Spouse Destroys Property?

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

In the heat of a separation or impending divorce, it is tempting to make a grand exit and then drop the microphone. In our experience as family lawyers, we see all sorts of bad, ill-conceived conduct by separating couples—generally targeted toward each other, toward the children, toward pets, or toward property. These acts are designed to make a statement, to retaliate, or to punish each other. Some of these actions are legitimately embarrassing, some of them unlawful, and some turn out tragic. So what happens when your separated spouse starts destroying marital property? What are you supposed to do? The answer to this question is to contact a family law attorney immediately. This is because when it comes to property division in North Carolina, there are laws in place to …

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Can Your Small Business Survive a Divorce?

In Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

When you start your own business, you are taking a big risk. You are putting an enormous amount of time, emotional energy, and money into a dream with no guarantee that you will see that money again. However, if it works out, you have something that you can claim as your own: a source of personal pride that you may one day pass on to your children. Unfortunately, divorce can throw a giant monkey wrench into anyone’s best-laid plans. The reason is that when couples divorce in North Carolina, each spouse is entitled to his or her equitable share of all marital property. So does your small business have to be sold off and divided in a divorce? Separate or Marital Property? The first issue regarding a small business is …

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Who Does the House Belong To?

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

In many marriages, a house is the most valuable property a couple owns. This is true both literally and figuratively. Not only is a home of great financial value, but it is also a place full of memories and firsts for couples and their children. The first place you lived together, the place where your children were raised from birth, and the place your children feel safe. Your family’s home is a really big deal. As a consequence, when couples separate and divorce, houses are an incredible source of conflict. This leads to the key questions: who will get the house at the conclusion of the divorce process? Is There an Agreement? The answer to this question is pretty straight forward if parties have a prenuptial agreement, or a separation …

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What Information Do I Need to Seek Equitable Distribution?

In Separation & Divorce, Wealth by Sarah Hink

North Carolina is an “equitable distribution” state. This means that when a couple separates and divorces, spouses are entitled to seek an order from the court that adds up the fair market value of all of the couple’s marital property and divides that property in an equitable manner. Property division is a critical part of the divorce process, and it is therefore important to have a complete accounting of your financial interests. Even if your spouse is the person who handles the “money side” of your marriage, there are numerous records that you should seek out prior to your separation. As family law attorneys with years of experience, we have seen everything. We cannot understate how important it is to have a full picture of your family’s finances, as this …

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Distinguishing Marital Property from Separate Property

In Separation & Divorce, Wealth by Elizabeth Stephenson

When couples divorce, one of the big issues that must be resolved is how to divide property. In the absence of a pre-nuptial agreement that addresses property division, the law entitles spouses to seek an equitable division of marital property. In short, this means that a court will take the total fair market value of all of a couple’s marital property and divide it in an equitable manner in consideration of numerous statutory factors. Significantly, property that is considered “separate” property is not subject to division. Therefore, the classification of property as marital or separate is critical for both parties. What is Marital Property? Marital property is defined as “all real and personal property acquired by either spouse or both spouses during the course of the marriage and before the …

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Inheritance and Division of Marital Property

In Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

When a married couple separates and divorces in North Carolina, the law calls for the court to divide the couple’s marital property in an “equitable” manner. On the other hand, each partner’s separate property stays with them and is not subject to equitable distribution. This makes the classification of a couple’s property as marital or separate a complex and hard-fought source of litigation when a marriage ends. Essentially, the partner with more money or resources will generally fight to hold on to their money, while the partner with less will seek more. For some people, inheritance signifies a great source of personal wealth. This is why if a spouse inherited property during a marriage, a natural question becomes: is the inheritance separate or marital property? Inheritance is Generally Separate Property …

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Preserving and Protecting Property During a Divorce

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

When married couples separate in a manner that isn’t amicable, the emotions and tension underlying the separation often rears its head when it comes to settling the issue of property division. In fact, this time has a great potential for volatility and poor decision-making, in which some spouses choose to conceal, steal, destroy, or dispose of property in order to punish the other spouse. This is why if you decide to separate, your first decision should be to call an experienced family law attorney. At New Direction Family Law, we understand the unpredictable nature of separations and divorce and seek to quickly and effectively protect our clients’ interests. Seeking Injunctive Relief When a married person separates, they are entitled to file an equitable distribution claim to seek action from the …