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 information: (1) helps your attorney protect your property interests from any attempts by your spouse to harm those interests; and (2) lets your attorney fight for every dime that you are entitled to during the separation and divorce process. We recommend gathering the following:
- Records Regarding Property
Find records regarding your family’s property. All of it. This includes records and receipts regarding real estate, investment accounts, bank accounts, business interest, vehicles, art and jewelry, insurance accounts, and retirement accounts. In addition, it is enormously helpful to obtain copies of your last several tax returns, as this can provide valuable information and fill in gaps.
The identification, classification, and valuation of property are intense and details are a must. Details such as when property was acquired and how it was paid for must be answered. For any property that is unusual or not easily valued, such as real estate, business interests, check your records to see if an appraisal has been conducted on the property. This is because the fair market value of property is incredibly important to an equitable distribution determination by the court. If you are uncertain whether property is marital or separate property, your attorney can help answer that question.
- Records Regarding Debts
Obtain records of your family’s debts. This includes credit card statements, mortgage information, medical expenses, and any other outstanding debts and obligations. Your attorney will help determine who the debt belongs to and its impact on the equitable distribution. On that note, obtain a copy of your credit report. It is not uncommon for disgruntled spouses to run up credit cards, take on new debt, or act in a petty manner to harm the other spouse’s credit.
Contact New Direction Family Law
You have strong legal protections when it comes to marital property. At New Direction Family Law, we can help preserve your legal rights and help you fight for your fair share. You should not settle for anything less. This is your financial future, and we want to help you move forward. Our firm serves Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Call New Direction Family Law today at (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation or visit us at our website.
Sarah J. Hink
New Direction Family Law