Can 'wife' claim house she never lived in

Dear Darrell:

Greetings. The legal date of separation in North Carolina is the date that you both begin to live separate and apart and one of you has the intention that the separation will be permanent. You may have some problems proving the intention part of this, but generally you are already legally separated.

If you purchase the land with marital funds or assets, then she can have a claim to the property. If they put her name on the deed, then there is a presumption that you “gifted” the property to the marriage. She can always try to lay claim to the property, but property and assets acquired by either spouse through their efforts are separate if acquired after the date of separation.

My advice is that your son is already dealing with the separation, so you need to file for equitable distribution and divorce in North Carolina. Best of luck.

Janet L. Fritts
Attorney at Law
4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 500
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service but a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action.

I have had a deal to buy a house land in my lap that is “too good to pass up”. My “wife” and I have not lived together since 1996/97. She lives in New York with my son. I live in North Carolina. We have not however declared a legal separation. I did file for separation once but withdrew it when my son had a hard time handling it.
If I buy this house and THEN later we get a legal separation and then divorce, can she, in any way, try to lay claim to the house, or any portion of it, even if she has never lived in it?
Is filing for separation first my best legal option?
Is it my ONLY legal option?
Is separation sufficient OR could she still lay legal claim to the house if we are separated but not divorced?