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Frequently Asked Questions About Property

Read questions about property rights and distribution—and answers from Rice Law.

Q: Will I be awarded the house or will it be split 50/50?

We moved into our home December 2008. I closed on the house March 3, 2009 in my maiden name (I had started paperwork and closing on the house before we finalized the whole getting married thing); however, we did get married on May 17, 2009. Now we are thinking about getting a divorce. Who would get the house or would it be a 50/50 thing, even though he is not on the house deed at all? (Charlotte, NC)

A: Generally, if you had the house in your name before you got married and you have not changed title, the house is yours. He has no claim to it except for: a) 1/2 the increase in value due to active appreciation (e.g., if he upgraded the kitchen with his own labor); b) if he can trace any funds he put into the house *before* marriage; and c) 1/2 the reduction in principal paid with marital funds. So in all likelihood, the house is yours; however, on something this important, consult an attorney!

Q: Can my boyfriend/girlfriend sell personal belongings that were left when I moved?

Can my boyfriend sell belongings that I left when I moved home because I had no room to bring them? (Ayden, NC)

A: You can bring a lawsuit against him for breach of his fiduciary duties as a bailee. You can do this as a small claims action.

Q: What forms do I fill out to get my personal property back?

I need to get my personal belongs such as clothes, papers and toiletries from my wife and she will not let me in the house to get them. (Greensboro, NC)

A: You may be able to file a claim for return of personal property. See Complaint to Recover Possession of Personal Property.

But if you are married and newly separated, the issues could be far larger. You should consult with an attorney ASAP. Use the NC Bar Association's referral program and you can speak with an attorney in your area for as little as $30 for 30 minutes. It is enough time to understand your basic rights.

Q: Will I lose my house in a divorce?

I have been married for just under 3 years and live in North Carolina. I bought my house 1 year prior to being married. My husband and I are financially separate (he pays the mortgage and I pay all the other household bills). Will I lose my house in the divorce...will I be forced to sell it and split the money with him? (Greensboro, NC)

A: If you owned the house before you married and you did not change the title after marriage, the house is your separate property. Your husband may be able to claim one-half the reduction in principal (due to his mortgage payments during the marriage) and one-half the active appreciation (increase in value due to his efforts to improve the property).

But when dealing with property, you need to consider all the property. If he has a pension or 401(k), a portion of this is probably marital and you should consult an attorney to understand your rights to the property.

Q: Can my ex-wife sue for my V.A. pension?

Can my ex-wife sue for my V.A. pension? We were married 20 years. I was in the Marine Corps for 17 of them. We divorced 8 yrs. ago and she remarried in 2001. (Hubert, NC)

A: Not under North Carolina law. If there was no agreement to divide a pension and no lawsuit for equitable distribution pending before the divorce was final, then marital property rights in a pension, whether military or not, is totally severed. She should not be able to get anything. The only way she could get it now is if she has a court order or Separation Agreement that entitles her to it that was signed before the divorce or is the result of a lawsuit filed before the divorce.

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Notice & Disclaimer: These questions were posted on Avvo, Lawguru, or a similar service. Some have been slightly altered to correct grammar while others are posted intact. This information has been posted for educational and informational purposes only. You should seek help from an attorney licensed to practice divorce and family law in the State of North Carolina because the facts of your particular situation may warrant a different answer. No attorney client relationship created through the use of this Web site. Information pertains to the State of North Carolina only.


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