How to File for Equitable Distribution


#1

Married in Perquimans County NC in 1995, separated June 2014. After six months relocated to Maryland. Estranged spouse still lives in Perquimans County. She has sent separation papers which I agree with fundamentally but disagree with the Property Division. After separation it came to my attention that she made off with a sizable amount of marital assets. If I contest the property separation portion and file a civil suit does it have to be in the county in which we were married? Or can I file for divorce and separation where I have been since January 2015? Our only child is an adult (21 years old) so no child support is needed. She earns more than I do and potentially has more assets that she has hidden. We sold our marital home in 2016 and split the proceeds of the sale equally. When she moved out of the marital home in June 2014 she took all of our financial records, tax records etc. with her. Repeated requests for copies of those documents was met with no response. I ended up obtaining copies on my own and at considerable cost. There are still some holes in them. Our timeshare (a fully paid for asset as of 2010) was apparently sold at a tax lien auction in 2013, which I had no knowledge of, because she had ceased making payments for the fees and taxes but had led me to believe she still was paying them. All federal refunds were deposited to her account for use to pay those fees instead she was hoarding the money and I had no idea. She also quit making payments on numerous bills to include insurance coverage for our home. I had no idea. Instead she was “pocketing” all of this money to include over $10,000 we received during our marriage. So my questions are: 1) Am I required to file in NC since I am contesting the division of property (not the absolute divorce, I am fine with that) or can I/should I file everything in MD? 2) If I file in NC what forms do I need for Perquimans County (Hertford - I believe it has to go to court in Elizabeth City) 3) Is there anyone who offers low or no cost divorce assistance or online assistance since I live so far away? 4) Can she be made to pay for my legal fees? 5) What forms do I need to send her to document her assets and debts and what period of time do they need to cover?


#2
  1. If your wife has already filed an action in NC, then you will need to file a counterclaim to that action in the same county that she filed in. If your wife only sent you a separation agreement (no complaint), then you can file in MD where you are a resident.

  2. If you choose to file in the county of NC that your wife is currently residing, then you will need to file a Domestic Civil Action Cover Sheet, Civil Summons, and Complaint. Check with the clerk’s office in that county to see if there are any local forms (specific to that county) that also need to be filed.

You can access these forms and a sample absolute divorce complaint here.

Take a look at our Sample Complaint for a guide to file for equitable distribution. Note that you can combine the claims of absolute divorce and equitable distribution into one complaint.

  1. You can get access to a library of legal forms and communicate with an attorney through our Rosen Online Service. This service only costs $199/month, and would be a great resource for you to handle your divorce and equitable distribution issues without spending thousands of dollars retaining an attorney.

  2. No, you cannot ask the court to order your wife to pay your attorney’s fees if your only claims are absolute divorce and equitable distribution.

  3. Once an equitable distribution action is filed, you and your wife will need to exchange equitable distribution affidavits, which should include the value of each marital asset and marital debt as of the date of separation plus any passive increases or decreases in value since the date of separation. Take a look at our Sample Equitable Distribution Affidavit


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.


#3

So to be clear, if she hasn’t filed at all in NC I can file everything for my divorce including Equitable Distribution/Property Settlement here in Maryland and it is then legal and binding in North Carolina.

By law I do not have to file in North Carolina just because I was married there & resided there until 6 months after separation (in Hertford, NC).


#4

You can likely file for a divorce and equitable distribution in another state as long as you meet the residency requirements and other requirements of that state. A court order from another state would be recognized in North Carolina, and a divorce judgment from another state would be binding in North Carolina.

It is correct that you do not have to file in North Carolina just because you were married there and resided there during 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.


#5

So Divorce Laws in North Carolina are the same statewide, with no difference based on your location (city/county)?

I have been in Maryland long enough to file here. Are there benefits to filing in the state in which a person now resides vs. coming back to North Carolina for the divorce?

And anything divorce wise or equitable distribution wise filed here (or in any other state) is legal and binding in NC?


#6

North Carolina divorce laws are the same throughout the entire State of North Carolina.

The benefit to filing in your state of residence is that your court dates, clerk’s office to file paperwork, and if applicable, your lawyer would all be local to you and you would not have to travel.

Yes, a court order from another state is recognized and binding in North Carolina.


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.