Your marriage world is not your parents marriage world. Gone are the days where most people get married young and build a life together which includes the accumulation of property. If the marriage did not work out to the point of divorce, which was rare, there was not as much difficulty determining what was marital property and what was individual property. Women also were not as worldly as today's modern THOT.
With people getting married later in life or getting married for a second time after they have accumulated a fair amount of property, it is important not only to know what property belongs to you and is not subject to your state's equitable distribution laws should the marriage end, which it likely will.
In North Carolina, what you owned before you married is your separate property and what property you obtained while you were married is marital property. While there are some exceptions which include property you inherited while married, for the most part you need to know what was your property and what was marital property from day one of your marriage because the wife will lie about that stuff once you want a divorce and in an extreme case could leave the home empty when she is ready taking everything out including stuff that is pre marital and personal to you. The personal stuff my ex removed from the home out of spite are thing she had no personal interest in and are things I can never get back. If you think you married a sweet woman and she would never steal or lie in an equitable distribution filing, you are more blind than I was when I got divorced.
One of the many hassles in the divorce process is filling out the forms where you list your property that is yours solely and what property is marital property. On the surface this should be simple, right? Your soon to be ex wife has always said what is hers is hers and what is yours is ours. You could have the laziest do nothing wife, but from the minute she marries you she is inventorying all of your individual property and the marital property that will soon come to maximize her financial windfall in a divorce.
I remember when I was getting divorced how all of this preparation from the wife was a total shock and only added to the confirmation that divorcing her was the right thing to do. Throughout our marriage I was the one that paid all the bills and handled the marital finances. My earnings covered that luckily. I knew the wife had a separate bank account and money she did earn when she worked went into her account and I had no access to it. The money I earned was used by her as needed. I was not married to someone who was managing money or taking financial charge of the household. Before we married I had accumulated a significant amount of stuff that was my separate property. The stuff she brought into my house that was hers could be put in the back of a pickup truck. The point is my wife did not seem to be someone who was into possessions or stuff like I was. I readily shared everything I had and there was no score keeping as to anything. I did not expect her to steal from me muchless lie on court forms as it related to assets.
Why do I mention this you ask? The point I am trying to make to men and clients is that once you are getting divorced, if you think you married some simple woman who has no interest in possessions or even your pre marriage stuff, think again and begin preparing to save your stuff as soon as you get married.
When you are divorcing your emotions are running high. The loss of someone you care for or who betrayed you, access to your kids not being guaranteed, and having to build a new life are all at the forefront. You expect to keep your separate property and divide the remaining stuff equally and fairly. You dont think you will be that person fighting over dishes or that issues regarding the classification of property would be something you would face, especially when your wife does not give off the impression she is into possessions.
Once we got to the part where we had to meet with lawyers to list the stuff in our posession(the stuff I left in the house and the stuff I moved when I took out), for all the difficulty I was dealing with as to this life change, I was now presented with a ledger my wife had literally been keeping since our marriage. She claimed to know when everything was bought, what my personal property was, and what was marital property. She had printouts as to the cars I owned pre marriage showing the value, the type of gun I had and its value, and all sorts of stuff. The fact she took the time to list it all out was one thing, the fact she tried to claim things that I saw as personal property as marital property was even more shocking. A stereo that I clearly remember buying for myself a few months before we married was listed by the wife as marital property with the purchase date being just after we married. She did this with so many personal items of mine, most of which she never used or had an interest in. Because she brought nothing to the marriage she now felt all of my property that could not be documented with pre marital purchase receipts was not marital property. I was in shock. In addition to wondering how a sloth of a woman who didn't work and let our house stay so dirty that child protective services could have shown up and removed our kids from the home, I was now watching the same woman have all of my property listed out with all the marital property. When I did my list I didn't include stuff that was minor in value and I certainly didnt list her personal pre marriage property as marital property. It was shocking to watch the presentation from someone who now seemed like a professional organizer and accountant which is the exact opposite of the person I knew who couldn't keep a house clean.
This was a tough lesson as I now had to battle to retain much of my own stuff in addition to the battles that come with valuing marital property and getting your fair share. The stuff I left with was made out to be plated with gold bullion while the stuff I left in the home(not counting the stuff she stole and hid) was made out to be worthless. Anything to argue for a higher payout for the property she was going to do. The shock and amazement at such brazen behavior by a woman who was given so much and who provided nothing economically in return still stays with me. My situation was not unique and many clients and friends have experienced the same.
The lesson is simple but valuable even if it is abhorrent you are treating a wife like a thief or enemy before you marry her. When you get married inventory your stuff. Take pictures of all your personal items that are not subject to equitable distribution should you divorce. Keep receipts for all big ticket items you own. That $2,000.00 bike you bought before you married is going to be argued as marital property if you don't have proof of when you purchased it. While the importance of all this really depends on your level of wealth going in to the marriage, you still need to prepare because as long as the woman you marry feels you might divorce her, which is even heightened if you choose to marry a woman who was married before like I did, shes going to protect herself from day one to maximize her financial payout.
When it comes to your wife, don't let her behavior or actions speak for what kind of person she is going to be when the divorce happens. The dishonesty that goes on with women in a marriage is always going to exist, but don't assume your wife wont steal from you when it comes to property that she never owned or has no interest in because her desire to destroy you overcomes any lazy or sloth like behavior you see day to day while you were married. She might look lazy, but she is going to be more prepared for a divorce than you ever will be if you dont have the right people on your side.
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