Rights for Non-Married Spouses?

If you are in a situation where you are experiencing domestic violence you can find low or no cost assistance. YOu should contact the clerk of court in your county or if you live in Wake County you can contact Interact.

You may also find additional resources available to you through the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Their website is www.nccadv.org

The division of the property you have accumulated is not based on equitable distribution. It would be based on property law and I do not practice in that area. I am sorry I cannot offer you more assistance.

Helena M. Nevicosi
Attorney with Rosen Law Firm

4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 500
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
919.787.6668 main phone
919.787.6361 main fax

Charlotte Office
301 McCullough Drive
Suite 510
Charlotte, NC 28262
Main Phone: (704)307.4600
Main Fax: (704) 9343.0044

Durham & Chapel Hill Office
1829 East Franklin Street
Building 600
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
(919) 321.0780


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.

I need to know my rights as an unmarried spouse. I have been with my “husband” for twelve years and we have two children, ages ten and five. Through the years, I have endured systematic, increasing emotional abuse and isolation by him and his family, and the situation has now reached a point that I fear abandonment and the loss of my children. I have nowhere to turn and I don’t know how to leave or where to go.

Naturally, this situation is complex, and the road here has been long. I will not bore you with the minute details, but I will offer a summary in hopes that you may best answer my question.

I worked very hard for many years to support and care for our family, but it was always under my spouse’s name and by his rules. I paid off his and his ex-wife’s debts, I built up and ran his business, I cared for and educated our children, and I cared for our home. During all that time, he denied me access to friends, family, outside jobs, and education. He rarely worked and never helped with the home or the children. Everything is and has always been in his name. I am non-existent unless it serves his needs. I have no legal ownership of anything tangible regardless my contribution.

His family is a family of abusers. His mother has played a significant role in enabling her sons to abuse and isolate their wives, physically and emotionally; and she has gone to extraordinary lengths to remove the wives from the relationships and gain custody of the children. Again, it is systematic and builds over a period of years. Now, it is my turn. She has turned out sights to me and has begun to come into my home and verbally attack me in front of my children. She has tried on several occasions to sneak my children out of the house and into her car.

I need help. This is a rural area, and I have been unable to locate any advocacy or resource. Two years back, after my spouse took our entire savings and deposited it into a sole bank account and then moved us into one of his mother’s houses where she had even greater access to me and my children, I began saving quarters and pennies until I had enough money for a consultation with an attorney. He admonished me for not being married because “that is against Christian values” and he advised me that I should “go home, quit complaining, and stop trying to take your husband’s property.” Needless to say, I was flabbergasted. And then I went home and cried.

At this point, my spouse has us so isolated that we cannot even get financial aid or assistance, not even health insurance for the children. He no longer even permits me to file taxes or keep financial records, no will he do it. Again, we are non-existant to the world.

What are my rights? How can I leave this degrading and debilitating situation and get my children and myself into a “normal” life where we are part of society and we have hope for a future?