What Am I Entitled to in a Divorce?
One of the first questions we hear from clients who are ending a marriage is, “What am I entitled to in my divorce?” It’s a fair question. When a couple decides to go their separate ways for whatever reasons, there are a lot of emotions and concerns involved, not least of which is how you will each move forward independently. If children are involved, the stakes are even higher.
The first thing you need to know is that North Carolina is an equitable distribution state. This means the court must divide your property in a way that it deems reasonable and fair. This isn’t as simple as it seems—sometimes an equal distribution would actually be unfair, and in those cases the court will do its best to pursue a result it finds justifiable, even if it appears unbalanced.
At Mulligan Epstein Attorneys, our family law specialists are trained to help you get everything you’re owed during a separation or a divorce. Read on for some of our advice, and contact us today to discuss your case more specifically.
What are your family’s finances?
The first thing you must do is get a clear, detailed picture of your family’s financial history and life. Gather information and proof that shows who earns how much, what assets you share, and how much debt is tied to those belongings. It’s a good idea to speak with a financial advisor and an experienced lawyer at this point—these people can help you figure out what you’ll need from a settlement in order to cover your expenses and preserve your lifestyle moving forward. They will also help you recognize whether the plan your spouse presents is reasonable and fair.
How is property divided?
Before the court can divvy up the things you own, it must first determine what category those things fall into. There are three categories: marital property, divisible property, and separate property. Marital property includes anything acquired or earned during the marriage, up to the date of separation. This can include real estate and automobiles, as well as pensions and retirement benefits. Divisible property includes anything that changed in value between the date of separation and the finalization of the divorce. This can include bonuses from your job, commissions on sales, and stock dividends. Finally, separate property includes anything that is gained or lost after the separation, and anything that was brought into the marriage independent of the other person. A family vacation home one spouse inherited or an inheritance are two examples that would fall under this heading.
What will affect how things are divided?
There is no formula for deciding how to divide up the assets of a marriage, and no blueprint that clearly shows what is fair and what isn’t. Many factors will be taken into account during this process. For example, if your marriage lasted less than ten years, it’s considered a “short” marriage, and will net you less than a longer marriage. If children are involved, then custody decisions and child support payments will play a significant role. Also taken into account are any disparities in earning ability—if one partner is a CEO and the other is a stay-at-home parent, the scales will tip. And, of course, if you’ve signed a prenup prior to marriage, many of these questions will already have answers, whether you like them or not.
If you find yourself facing a separation or divorce, make sure you have an experienced divorce attorney on your side. This is the best way to secure your future and ensure you get everything you deserve. Contact Mulligan Epstein Attorneys as soon as possible for a consultation and we’ll make sure you have everything you need during this difficult time.