Division of Property


I am a 57 year old female who has been married for almost 34 years to my 61 year old husband. Only marriage for both. I recently discovered that he has been having random sex during his frequent trips to Asia. He does not deny it (I have an email confirming this) and also in the email he states that he will continue to to this. He really thought that I would be happy living my nice life here and he could do his “own thing”. We have over $4.5 million in divisable assets not counting pensions and social security. Since 1999 when he was laid off of his corporate job and started his own business I contributed $952K more to our joint finances. I was laid off from my job in 2006. I fully supported him starting his own business and realized that he was not making much money but he was happy not being in the corporate rat race and he could travel to Asia and do things he enjoyed. I also knew that he did not try to show much money in his business but that it was a way for him to buy and expense his $400K airplane. I want a divorce as I now realize our marriage was/is a sham and I am not the Hilary Clinton type. I know legally that his adultry does not factor into the division of our property. I want to remain in my house which we just built and moved into in Oct. 2009 and cost $1.2 million. The house is paid for. He has published two books on divorce with several lawyers (he is not a lawyer but thinks he is a master “negotiator”) His proposal is that I keep the house and pay him $268K (the value he feels he is short when we divide our joint account and value our individual 401Ks). He values the house at 1.2 and our furnishing at $50K). My problem is that I need to wait 5 years to take my pension and 401Ks) He keeps his business which he claims is only him and has cash of $171K and inventory of $175K. He also values his airplane at $236K but adds a tax penalty as it is fully deprecipated to make it $156K). He can take his pensions and 401K in February 2009. He also will continue to have a cash flow out of his business of over $50K a year although he is “working”. He will also inherit over 1.3 million from his 93 year old uncle which he is supposed to give away to charities that he will pick. He has been building schools and various things in Asia. He writes off his trips against his uncle’s charity. While I realize that I will not be destitute I will have to deplete my savings to live for the next 5 years; cover my health insurance (he can write off his against his business), etc. This whole mess seems so unfair to me. He used me to live the good life for the past 10 years and now he walks away with half of everything. Could I get a better deal by contesting this in court and how much should I expect to pay in legal fees? Could I possibly recover the cost from him?


You are certainly entitled to seek a greater than 50% distribution of property, and while his adultery does not affect property distribution, many of the other events in your marriage could. Your contribution to his business, and his large expectation of separate property are both valid reasons to seek a greater than 50% distribution.

Depending on how the case proceeds you can expect your legal fees to be anywhere from 20k to 60k, and you will likely incur other fees in getting a proper value for the business. Your husband can be liable for one half the cost of hiring an expert to appraise the business, however North Carolina does not provide for attorney’s fees for either spouse seeking distribution of property.