Five Tips for the Divorce Roller Coaster

Although societal stigmas still exist to some extent, divorce is far less scandalous these days and is often viewed as something that just happens to some couples. If you are divorcing, this is a healthy perspective for you to remember as you navigate the process and move forward.

Clients often say, “Divorce is an emotional roller coaster,” which is an incredibly accurate description. You pay a fee, stand in line, take your seat, strap in, lose control, get tossed about, and eventually come to the end. Consider taking the following steps to protect and prepare yourself.

1. Know Your Assets and Debts. There should be nothing about your marital finances that you do not know. Take the necessary steps to access accounts, your financial advisers, and your CPA. Copy all year-end financial statements, work-related documents (W-2s, 1099s, 401(k), Individual Retirement Account, pension) and personal bank and investment statements. Run a credit report on yourself and your spouse.

2. Separate Nonmarital Assets. The dictionary would define nonmarital assets as property considered by the courts to belong to one spouse and to be unavailable for equitable distribution. More simply, this means property that is not divided in a divorce proceeding. Some types of nonmarital assets include inherited property, items brought to the marriage or owned before the marriage, gifts given specifically to one person, or proceeds from personal injuries.

Sometimes nonmarital assets can become mixed with marital assets, such as when a boat that was purchased before marriage is sold during marriage to purchase another item like a car. In situations like this, it is very important to have a paper trail documenting the assets’ activity to be able to claim them as nonmarital.

3. Walk the Line. In other words, don’t do stupid stuff. Consider yourself to be under a microscope—so no alcohol, no drugs, no questionable behavior. Put your love life on hold and stay single. Change passwords on all social media accounts and refrain from posting anything that would upset your children or spouse. In fact, it may be best to avoid social media all together until the process is concluded.

4. Focus on the Kids. If you have children, start making a list of parenting issues and visitation options. Be sure to know details of the children’s lives—who their doctors, teachers, and friends are and what activities they are involved in. Hopefully you already have a solid relationship, but if not, there’s no better moment to start spending quality time with your kids.

5. Hire a Divorce Lawyer. Even by adhering to all of these principles, divorce can be very confusing and difficult to manage. There is a large amount of information, often factspecific, that must be considered. For this reason, it is important to consult with and hire an experienced divorce attorney who will be able to walk you through this process.

Lastly, respect each other, save the arguments for another day, and try to start a new tradition for yourself. By doing that, the next year will be easier and you will be on your way to making the best of the rest of your life.

We Can Help

Divorce matters are important and often require the assistance of an experienced family law attorney to ensure that the needs of the children and parents are properly considered. If you need legal assistance, contact Lundell Law Firm for more information and to discuss a strategy for pursuing your divorce or child custody matter. You can reach an attorney by calling (704) 288-4096, or by completing our contact form. We offer flexible payments without compromising our level of service.

free trader agreements

Free Trader Agreements in North Carolina

As a divorce lawyer practicing in Union County, clients often ask me about “Free Trader Agreements” or provisions. What are they? Do I need one in my separation and divorce? Divorce lawyers often include such provisions in Separation Agreements. Let’s review what free trader agreements are, and whether you need one in your divorce or separation.

What is a Free Trader Agreement?

Free Trader Agreements allow a husband or wife to purchase property after the date of separation but before an absolute divorce without the necessity of having the other spouse being placed on the deed. The most common scenario—husband and wife separate. One spouse stays in the former marital home. The other spouse moves out and intends on buying a new place. However, the paperwork gets caught up because the spouses refuse to both sign and be on a deed for new property together. Obviously, the parties do not want this. What to do? This is the basic premise behind a Free Trader Agreement.

With a Free Trader Agreement, the spouses can freely purchase real property without placing the other spouse on the deed. This, by no means, will allow one spouse to sell the former marital home without the consent of the other—that is not what this is for. Instead, this allows the “purchasing” spouse to keep that real property as a separate asset and a separate obligation (ie—the mortgage). This can have huge value for both parties.

This document can also address the obligation that each party has to the other to refrain from attempting to get credit in the others’ name, as well as to promptly pay all debts and financial obligations incurred from the date of separation on.

Free Trader Agreements should be drafted in accordance with N.C.G.S. 52-10 and 39-13.4, they must be signed by both parties and notarized, and are filed with the Register of Deeds.

I Already have a Separation Agreement…Do I need a Free Trader Agreement?

If you do not have a recorded Free Trader Agreement, this can be very problematic as North Carolina requires parties to live separate and apart for at least one year before a party may file for divorce. Any plans to purchase, sell or refinance real estate may be put on on hold until the 12-month waiting period is over. Even after parties that have legally separated and remain separated for 12 months, it can take an additional two or three months to obtain the actual divorce judgment. Often during this process, my clients will need to either acquire or transfer real estate after their separation and prior to entry of a divorce judgment.

Most North Carolina divorce law firms include some standard “free trader” provisions in their Separation Agreement and Property Settlement Agreements. If drafted correctly and properly executed, these provisions may be completely enforceable, however without a separate record-able document containing a Free Trader Agreement you will be forced to record your entire separation and agreement and property settlement with the local register of deeds. This may not seem like a big deal, however recording costs can be rather high for a long documents, and more importantly you may not wish to have your personal life exposed like that for all the world to see into posterity. Anyone and everyone could access your entire separation agreement if the whole document is recorded.

Speak to a Monroe/Union County Family Law Attorney

If you are unsure whether or not you will be purchasing property after your separation and prior to your divorce, please make make sure you talk with a local divorce lawyer to discuss the matter prior to entering into any divorce settlement or Separation Agreement and Property Settlement. Call Lundell Law Firm at 704-288-4096 to discuss all of the issues surrounding your separation.

 

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