My same-sex spouse and I have been together 36 years; however, we were unable to marry in NC until June 25, 2015, when the Supreme Court released the Obergefell decision. Because my spouse was in the uniformed services, we actually had a wedding ceremony on February 19, 2013, in Washington, DC.
After that and after being berated unmercifully for neglecting to do so, I put his name on my share of family land in eastern NC. At one point in the marriage I was earning significantly more than he did. We lived together while he earned as B.S. in a science field at State, a master’s in education at State, and a BSN and NP at UNC, but we were not married during that time. We purchased several houses together. in 1997 or so we purchased one house together while I encouraged him–in order to establish in improve his credit rating–to buy another house, which I would then pay for as rent for my office space. We were not married then either. So I paid half of one house and then for all of another via rent.
In 1995 or '96, he took a job in VA and I had to decide whether to let my business in Raleigh die or let the relationship die. He told me that he had trusted me all those years and now it was time to trust him. So I decided to just do it. We sold the house in Raleigh and I moved to VA. Because of the type of work I was in, I couldn’t re-establish myself in VA, so for the 12 (or maybe 15?) years we were there, I did not work. He paid the bills and made the mortgage payments. When I received an inheritance from my father, I finished paying the mortgage and a car loan. That was about two years before we were married in DC.
My spouse did well in DC. He received several promotions and is now retired with an income of over $100k a year. I am receiving only Social Security. My spouse pays the bills. I do have a retirement account but have not drawn on it except for about $30k to buy some high-end appliances for the new house we built. My spouse doesn’t want us to have to pay taxes on money from my retirement fund, so I’m not yet drawing on it. I’m getting extra income from renting my childhood home, and my spouse bought another house to use as a rental and enjoys that income. Except for property taxes and the normal recurring expenses, we have no debt.
I’ve said all that because I’d like to get someone’s gut reaction as to how a judge might likely divide our properties in an equitable distribution action.
- Would the judge favor my spouse because he has paid the bills since about 1995?
- Would the time we spent or the things we did together before the Obergefell decision play any role at all in a judge’s thinking?
- By law, we’ve only been married either 8 years since the DC wedding or 6 years since the Obergefell decision. How might that affect an equitable distribution decision?
- Assuming most male judges are prejudiced against us, how likely will he be able to make a decision without that prejudice factoring in?
The fact that our marriage might now be falling apart is a great concern of mine, and, if it comes to pass that we do separate, how all these things might factor in a ED decision is also a great concern of mine. What can you tell me?