Distribution of Property

When divorce is on the horizon, distribution of property is one of the first issues the parties will have to confront. Who will keep the house? How will the marital assets be divided? Do pensions and retirement plans also get split up? What about debts? In Monroe Union County, a request for fair distribution of marital assets as well as debts can be sought through a claim for equitable distribution and/or interim distribution. When a divorce also involves land or real estate, a separate court proceeding must be initiated in order to divide the property.

Not surprisingly, distribution of assets in a Monroe Union County divorce can be complex. Beyond the legal issues, procedurally some claims must be filed before certain points in the divorce process timeline. Failure to file claims properly can result in the spouse losing the right to assert this claim whatsoever. If a divorced spouse does not have a pending claim for equitable distribution, he or she will only have right to the marital assets to which he or she had legal title. This is one of the many reasons why a person facing divorce in Monroe Union County should contact an experienced family law attorney. The attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are dedicated to handling family and divorce cases in North Carolina. The firm is at the ready to provide the individualized and assertive representation you deserve.

Interim Distribution

In North Carolina, the law requires a couple to have been living separately for a minimum of one year in order to file for divorce. In many Monroe Union County separation and divorce cases, however, one spouse is at a distinct financial disadvantage when compared to the other. Should one spouse have his or her name on most of the property leases or deeds, has sole access to the parties’ liquid accounts, or is the primary breadwinner, this can easily create an uneven playing field. This is even more troublesome if the party with the financial power is withholding funds.

Not surprisingly, it becomes financially impossible for the couple to live separately – a basic requirement in North Carolina to qualify to file for divorce. In such cases, North Carolina law provides an option for soon-to-be ex-spouses. Interim distribution payments exist to make it financially possible for a couple to separate, or stay separated, when doing so would cause one spouse financial hardship or if they have no place to go. The distribution payments are “interim” because they occur before the judge enters a final judgement on the couple’s Monroe Union County equitable distribution.

Equitable Distribution

Prior to making a final judgment on a divorce or divorcing couple’s equitable distribution claim, a North Carolina judge will take several factors into consideration. A judge will look at each parties’ contributions to, as well as sacrifices for, the marriage. This factor is used to determine what would be a fair division between the soon-to-be ex-spouses. It is important to understand that marital property is subject to equitable distribution in a divorce. Any income, assets, and property that was acquired during the duration of the marriage up until the date of the couples’ separation is presumed to be marital property. On the other hand, property that was obtained prior to marriage is generally considered non-marital property. Sometimes, however, determining how to classify property can be complicated. If the couple used separate assets to pay off marital debt, or marital assets to pay off separate debt, the difference is not so clear.

There are other parts of a North Carolina equitable distribution claim that can be burdensome. While it is not mandatory that an equitable distribution claim be filed separately from a divorce filing, it is possible to do so. North Carolina procedure dictates, however, that in order for a spouse to preserve his or her right to file for equitable distribution he or she must at least have a pending claim in the courts prior to the finalization of the divorce by the judge. Failure to do so will result in the issue not being preserved and, therefore, courts will refuse to hear the matter. Notably, equitable distribution focuses on what is a fair distribution of assets rather than an equal distribution of assets. In many cases, the simple act of not properly filing for equitable distribution in a timely manner will result in a spouse losing out to the right to property and assets that are rightfully his or hers.

Settlement Agreements

Instead of having to litigate some of the most personal details of their marriage in court, a couple seeking divorce in Monroe Union County prefer to reach a settlement agreement outside of court. Accordingly, equitable distribution can be addressed in a settlement agreement between the soon-to-be ex-spouses. A settlement agreement can save time, money, and emotional stress making a divorce case resolve must more quickly. When a couple cannot come to an amicable agreement that is fair to both parties through a settlement, litigation may be the only option.

It is important to have a North Carolina family law attorney who not only has experience in settlement negotiations but also is an aggressive litigator prepared for whatever direction your divorce case turns. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, the family law and divorce attorneys at the firm have years of experience handling property distribution in and out of courtrooms in Monroe Union County and other counties in North Carolina.