"Outsider" desperate for help on USA (NC) divorce matters


First - Thank you very much for this forum. I found it by chance while searching the web for help desperately needed.

My husband and I (both South Africans) arrived in NC in 2008. My husband entered the USA with a working H visa - he was offered a job by a NC company. I entered the USA also on an H spouse visa - but with no right to work or to have a social security number. Married in community of property (South African law) he (we) bought a house in NC. I signed the papers to purchase the house at the same time as he did. Just short of three years after arriving in NC my husband spoke me into returning to South Africa - he was making life intolerable at home - so that we could have space to think - get out of the drama etc. I left NC with one suitcase. He bought my airline ticket to SA - a one way. I trusted him when I took the one way ticket believing he would later buy me a return ticket because I was not leaving NC not to return to my home in NC after a while. In SA I rented a holiday 3 month short term apartment after he said no to me when I asked to return home shortly after arriving in SA. I accepted his no that first time believing he needed more alone time. Three months up I asked again to come home. He said no again so I rented a second short term 3 month rental in South Africa and when that lease was coming to an end I asked again to return home. Again, he said no so I went ahead and rented a third short term 4 month holiday rental. During this time, by chance, found out that he had notified his employees attorney that I had no intentions of ever returning to the USA so they had my visa to USA cancelled and there was no way for me to return to my NC home. Also no money for a airline ticket. What I also found out later was that shortly after I left his girlfriend arrived in the NC and she moved into our NC home. Not liking our NC home very much I heard girlfriend bought her own NC house a short distance away and husband then moved into her house. He then promptly found tenants for our NC - all this behind my back and while I was asking him again and again to return to our NC home. Husband and girlfriend still live together in her NC house and he still (I have heard) rents out NC house. Husband is now desperate for a divorce and he keeps e-mailing me to finalise things but I have no idea what to do when it comes to USA legal matters because he is very secretive about his US lifestyle and I have no way of finding out things. I do have an attorney and divorce wheels are turning but with regard to USA matters she is not very helpful so I am hoping to get some questions answered here on your forum.
My questions are :

  1. I signed for the NC house with him. We are married in Community of Property here in South Africa. Here the house automatically goes into my name as well. Is it the same in NC ? When I google information on our NC house I only see his name. How do I go about finding papers on the ownership of the house ?
  2. My belongings (my clothes and other things very dear to me) that I left at the house - is there any way I can get those things back ? I have no idea what he has done with my things.
  3. He has a K401 plan but has not had a QDRO done. He says I must add into the divorce papers that he will pay to me 50% of the K401 at date of divorce. He also says he will add me as a beneficiary so if he dies before the divorce I will get 50%. I am sure this is not so simple. Please advise. In South Africa we do not need to have a QDRO done so very little is known about the procedure. Reading webpages I am picking up that a QDRO must be done before the final divorce. Its all very confusing.
  4. I hear that its possible to freeze his K401. How is this done ? I have picked up whispers that he (and girlfriend) have plans to move to the UK in the very near future.
  5. Is it possible for him to sell the NC house (if he leaves the USA shortly) without my signature ?
  6. He refuses to give information re. finances - salary, K401 etc. Can anything be done ?

Since my return to South Africa - almost three years ago I have found no employment because I have no current work history - for the last 10 years of our marriage I did not work, not because I did not want to work but because I could not work - I was an ex-pat wife following my husband from country to country - always without a working visa.

Apologies for the length of this. Please, all help, no matter how small will be very appreciated.



You have a right to file a claim for equitable distribution in North Carolina. This will help you obtain your personal belongings as well as get an award for a portion of his retirement funds if that is what the court deems equitable. To freeze an account, you would have to file a motion for preliminary injunction. Once a claim for equitable distribution is filed, he will be forced to give you information about the assets through the discovery process. If he is still married, your signature is required to sell the property unless there is a free trader agreement on file.