Divorce is a major financial transaction. If you don’t adequately represent yourself and your interests, then you could end up on shaking financial footing as you try to reestablish yourself post-marriage dissolution. Therefore, you need to have strong strategy backed by compelling legal arguments before you set foot anywhere near a negotiation table or a courtroom to address property division.
How do you do that? There are a number of things you can do.
- Know which assets are in play: In North Carolina, marital property is divided equitably, meaning that it is divided amongst the parties fairly. But not everything you own is marital property. You might be able to argue that some of your assets belonged to you prior to the marriage, which might exempt them from property division. Similarly, you might be able to show that a spouse comingled their own assets with marital assets, which might render them marital property and thus subject to division. You might also want to consider seeking out a forensic accounting if you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets from you.
- Know what’s most important for you in the long-term: Divorce decisions are often driven by emotions. This can be a mistake because they usually only provide you with comfort in the short-term. So think about what is most important to you in light of your long-term goals. Fighting for the family house, for example, might not be the best financial decision for you moving forward.
- Know what you need in the short-term: Long-term goals are great, but you might have some very immediate needs. These can factor into your negotiation and trial strategies, but don’t telegraph these needs to your spouse right away, otherwise he or she might use it against you to get what he or she wants.
- Know where you’re willing to give: You can’t enter property negotiations without having some areas where you’re willing to give. This might be with certain pieces of personal property, the family home, or certain accounts. You’ll be able to more easily identify your gives once you know what you need and want for your long-term security and happiness.
- Know what’s most important to your spouse: While you certainly need to focus on what you want from the property division process, you also need to know what is important to your spouse as well as where he or she is likely to give. This can give you some leverage and help steer your property division negotiation strategy.
- Don’t be susceptible to coercive tactics: As we mentioned, emotions often run high in divorce, which can bleed over into property division negotiations and litigation. As a result, your spouse might make digs at you for the sole purpose of getting a rise out of you or guilt you into giving on an asset when you shouldn’t. Your spouse might even threaten to withhold your children from you unless you agree to certain property division terms. Don’t give in to these tactics.
- Be reasonable and cooperative: Resolving a property division dispute through negotiations can save you time, money, and headaches. By being reasonable and using cooperative and amicable language, you might be able to put the matter behind you while securing an outcome you’re happy with. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be prepared to aggressively litigate your position. In fact, you should be prepared to do so before sitting down at the negotiation table. But litigation should be something that is kept in your back pocket and used only when necessary to achieve your goals.
These are just a few of the things you can do to help prepare you for the property division process. We know that it can be overwhelming and stressful, which is why we stand ready to help North Carolinians with whatever property division needs they may have. We take pride in our ability to provide big firm resources while providing small firm attention to each of our clients. If you think you could benefit from a personalized approach to your case where you’ll receive the attention you deserve, then consider reaching out to our firm for more information.