Articles Posted in Property Division

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Wall v. Wall, 536 S.E.2d 647, 140 N.C. App. 303 (N.C. App. 2000)

There are various legal mechanisms by which former spouses separate their personal and real property. One mechanism is Equitable Distribution (ED). Practically speaking, however, no division of property should be accomplished without first obtaining an Order/Judgment from the court. This is especially true for more valuable and unique assets like real property. So what happens if you have your hearing, but don’t get an Order in a timely manner? Continue reading →

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In North Carolina, a stipulation, in the legal context, is an agreement between the parties in a lawsuit. It is most commonly used by parties to extend deadlines for responding to discovery or to agree on a factual finding that is uncontested. It can be done to minimize costs in litigation, because there is no need to spend time proving something that is agreed upon. Good practice dictates that stipulations are written and signed by the parties and/or attorneys and then presented to the court. Continue reading →

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Desai v. Desai, No.COA20-435 (July 2021) (unpublished)

Often in matrimonial cases, one party might question whether jewelry gifted to a spouse can be taken back in the property division phase of a separation and divorce. Jewelry and other assorted gifts often represent everlasting love and affection between spouses, so it is always slightly peculiar when one spouse requests the gift be returned. Below is a case about a special necklace given as part of a Hindu marriage celebration, and how our courts handled the issue. Continue reading →

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Unpublished Opinion – No. COA19-566

 

Carmen Cousin and Terry Cousin were married for seventeen years.  They separated in May 2016.  Upon separating, Carmen filed a complaint, which included a claim for equitable distribution.  Terry then filed an answer, which included a counterclaim for equitable distribution.  In the final equitable distribution order entered by the court in July 2018, the court assigned a value of $26,070.00 to the parties’ 1965 Lincoln Continental.  The court considered evidence showing the car to be fully restored, thus assigning it that value.  Furthermore, the court awarded Terry the parties’ Myrtle Beach property and ordered him to refinance the mortgage into his sole name before receiving the deed from Carmen.  Terry timely appealed this equitable distribution order.  Continue reading →

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Recently, I have been giving thought to how increases in separate property values through the active work of a spouse is considered during equitable distribution. As a refresh, the goal of a trial court in divorce is to classify all property owned on the date of separation, value it, and then distribute it between the parties; only marital property is distributed. Generally, increases in value to separate property during the course of a marriage are still separate property. However, the analysis does not end there. Continue reading →

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Dechkovskaia v. Dechkovskaia, 232 N.C. App. 350 (2014)

Equitable Distribution is a mechanism by which former spouses separate their personal and real property. Sometimes the spouses may have some marital (or divisible) interest in a third party’s property. One example is when a couple resides at one spouse’s parent’s residence, and the spouses make some improvement on the land that increases property value. That likely creates an interest in the improvement on the home, which can be attributed to one or both spouses in some manner. Continue reading →

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Brackney v. Brackney, 682 S.E.2d 401 (N.C. App. 2009).

  • Facts: Plaintiff and Defendant had a child with severe neurological needs. To accommodate the child’s needs, they chose to build a single-level home that was accessible. The child unfortunately passed. The parties then separated a year later. The home’s construction was not yet finished and the parties had not yet closed on the home. Per the contract with the home builder, if the home did not close on a specific date, the down payment for the home would be forfeit. The Plaintiff was allocated the home in an interim distribution, and thereafter closed on the home. In the preceeding years, the property value on the home skyrocketed by $181,000. At trial, Plaintiff made an argument that this increase was his own separate property. The trial court did not agree, classified it as divisible property, and Plaintiff appealed.

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In Equitable Distribution, we often ask clients about the debts that they accrued during the marriage and the value on the date of separation. This is because the judge is required to classify, value, and distribute marital property. But it may not always include debts incurred during marriage. The debts acquired by a spouse can be classified as marital, separate, or divisible, but only by showing that the debt has certain elements, required by law, can a debt be classified as marital. Continue reading →

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Vonhall v. Vonhall, (No. COA20-466) (unpublished)

In equitable distribution, clients often ask whether gifts to one spouse during the marriage is going to be subject to division. Below, we see a simple case example of how the law treats these gifts and the evidence that supports the legal conclusion: Continue reading →

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Wall v. Wall, 140 N.C. App. 303 (2000).

Former spouses in North Carolina can split their property in an action for Equitable Distribution (ED). In order for the Court to make a decision on distributing property, it needs an inventory affidavit of all property owned as a product of the marriage. Occasionally, and especially in cases involving high-income parties, the inventory list can be extensive. Many times, there can be arguments regarding values of property. This can lead to some delay between the day of the hearing and the day of entry of a Judgment. Continue reading →