Equitable Distribution

Information on equitable distribution in North Carolina

Since 1985, North Carolina has employed a system known as Equitable Distribution to divide the marital property of divorcing couples. While the idea that marital property should be divided equitably seems simple enough, applying that idea has produced some of the most complex litigation handled by our State Courts.

Mr. Cecil devotes a large portion of his practice to complex Equitable Distribution cases, and has experience in cases involving the valuation of small and large businesses, including medical and dental practices. However, even more modest marital estates can involve complicated tracing issues which can arise when one spouse owns property prior the marriage, or acquires property during the marriage by gift or inheritance.

Retirement Accounts, Pensions, and QDROs

Under North Carolina law, retirement benefits acquired during marriage are marital property, and the division of these assets is often necessary to equitable divide a marital estate. Many times this is accomplished through the drafting and entry of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (a “QDRO), which is a unique Order authorized and required by the ERISA. Although the drafting of QDROs can be complicated, and many firms refer this work to specialists, Mr. Cecil continues to successfully draft and enter his own QDROs for the benefit of hisclients, for both defined contribution and defined benefit plans.

On occasion, it is in the best interest of one spouse to seek a lump sum valuation of a pension, or defined benefit plan. Mr. Cecil is well versed in this procedure and has worked with a number of experts and valuation firms in these unique cases.

Business Evaluations

Many of the most complicated Equitable Distribution cases are those in which the primary marital asset is a privately held business. In order to equitably divide the marital estate, the business must be valued, and the spouse who retains the business must account for the value of the business either through other marital property, or through a cash award to the other spouse. The valuation of a business is as much an art as a science, and Mr. Cecil has worked with some of the best expert witnesses in the field to negotiate and litigate business valuation cases in order to obtain top value for his clients in these difficult situations.

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