Equitable Distribution , Alimony, & Separation

My friend is approaching the one-year mark for his separation and is currently seeking legal counsel. Your firm is one of the last two he is considering to retain for representation. He’s been visiting your site to gather some information as to what to expect in terms of alimony, child support and property division. He is aware of the fact that they will divide debt and assets (the retirement, savings, and investments) 50/50. Does the division also apply to his wife’s inheritance?

They were married 38 years, have
2 kids - son 19 and daughter 16, both residing with mom. Daughter will stay with Dad on weekends.
Mom has been a stay-at-home parent for last 19 years (although for the last 8 years or so Dad has taken on most of the household and children responsibilities because the mom was depressed.)
Mom has two master’s degrees, but is unwilling to return to the work force, claiming she has been absent from the job market to long too adapt to the current trends.
Dad has moved out of the house, but still pays all of the bills.
There is still a mortgage on the house for which the dad pays. Mom wants the house. Dad is fine with that if she can afford it. Will she have to buy him out by way of taking less of the retirement and savings? Less alimony? How long must he pay alimony? Will her two masters degrees have any bearings on the amount and length of time he pays alimony? Is the husband’s income/earnings since the date of separation considered in the divorce settlement?

Husband is not entitled to Wife’s inheritance, regardless of when it was acquired, unless Wife comingled her inheritance money with marital funds and the difference between inheritance funds and marital funds cannot be traced (for example, in a marital checking or savings account with many deposits and withdrawals).

Wife will have to buy Husband out in order to keep the house. The way this works in practice though, is that all of the assets and debts that Wife is keeping will be leveraged/balanced against those that Husband is keeping. An Excel balance sheet is used equalize the distribution of the net marital assets and debts.

Equitable distribution and alimony are separate issues and are generally determined and settled independently of each other.

Length of alimony is negotiable if you are outside of court. There are many factors that must be taken into consideration such as length of marriage, earing capabilities of each party, age of each party, etc. There are 16 Alimony Factors that are taken into account when determining an alimony award.

Wife’s two masters degrees may help Husband, however, Wife is correct that it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for her to get a decent-paying job after being out of the workforce for 19 years. Most likely, Wife will have to start with an entry level job or even a part-time job not in her degree field since she has no work history for so many years. So her masters degrees will likely have little effect.

Husband’s income since the date of separation is what’s used to determine child support and alimony. While equitable distribution uses values as of the date of separation, child support is based on current income and alimony is generally based on current income assuming it is the same or similar as to the income that provided the accustomed standard of living in the marriage.

Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

Rosen Online | Unlimited confidential access to a North Carolina attorney for $199/mo - click here

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 only, a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action. The information posted on this forum is available for public viewing and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship with any individual. These answers are provided for informational purposes only, a person should consult with their own individual legal counsel before taking any action that could affect their legal rights or obligations.

Thank you. I will pass this information along to my friend.