Practice Areas

Complex financial matters

Divorce is never easy, but some cases present more complex financial issues than others. If you or your spouse owns a business, that business may be one of the most valuable assets of the marriage, and it may also be the primary source of a family’s support. That business may also be one of the most complicated assets of the marital estate to value and may involve significant investigation and review of financial records. If you are considering a separation and you or your spouse owns a business, it is important that you consult with an attorney who is experienced in dealing with these issues.

At Ward Family Law Group, our attorneys have represented clients who own their own business as well as those whose spouse owns a business, and we have the expertise to help you through these issues.

In long-term marriages, parties have typically accumulated substantial assets, from real estate to investment accounts, and these assets are often extensive and intertwined. By the time spouses have reached age 60, either or both spouses may have received inheritance from a passing relative and that inheritance may have been used for marital purposes or intermingled with marital funds. Add to this equation impending retirement, questions about social security, health insurance, long-term care insurance, and the like, and it becomes clear why divorce under these circumstances can become complicated. If you or your spouse have been married for many years or are entering your “golden years,” then there may be a number of complex issues you will be confronted with, including how to divide retirement, how you will support yourself after your spouse stops working, health insurance and health care expenses, social security, etc.

If you are considering separation, even if you do not own a business or are approaching your “golden years,” there are countless other complicated financial issues that may arise in a family law case, including various tax implications involving the distribution of pension and other retirement funds, the sale of stock, gain exclusions and capital gains taxes related to the sale of a residence, life insurance, and a myriad of other issues.

The attorneys at Ward Family Law Group are equipped to handle the complex financial issues of divorce. We work closely with business appraisers, accountants, forensic experts, and financial advisers, including certified divorce financial analysts, to help our clients obtain the best possible results under difficult circumstances.

Frequently asked questions

My friend who got divorced got “X” result. Will I?

Friends who have been divorced can raise unrealistic expectations. Every case is different, and what happened to your friend is almost always irrelevant to your case.

Do I have to file a joint income tax return with my spouse?

No. Married persons are not required to file joint income tax returns, but there can be significant tax savings by filing jointly. However, it is important to remember that if you do file a joint income tax return with your spouse, you could be liable for any taxes that are due on that joint return, including interest and penalties. So, if your spouse does not report all of his/her income and the IRS later learns of this, you could be responsible for payment of back taxes, and your wages could be garnished in order to pay this tax liability. Your attorney and your accountant should work together to determine the most advantageous filing status for you and whether it is in your best interest for you to file a joint return with your spouse.

If we don’t file jointly, then which of us claims the children as dependents?

You and your spouse can agree on which parent can claim the children. If you and your spouse cannot agree, then under the Internal Revenue Code, the custodial parent will be entitled to claim the minor children as dependents on his/her income tax return. However, in North Carolina, if a parent who receives child support has minimal or no income tax liability, the court may consider requiring the custodial parent to assign the exemption to the supporting parent.

Do I have to give my spouse half of my pension?

If so, how does she receive it? If the pension rights were earned during the marriage and prior to the date of separation, then the pension is marital property and subject to division between the spouses. There are two ways to deal with the pension: you can value the pension and the spouse who owns the pension can keep the entire pension and the non-owning spouse can receive other marital assets to offset her interest in the pension, or the pension can be divided pursuant to a domestic relations order and the non-owning spouse will receive her share of the pension as a lump sum payment, at the time the spouse owning the pension begins receiving payments under the pension plan, or in some other payment format as permitted by the pension plan’s administrator. If you are the non-owning spouse, make sure that your attorney understands the importance of survivorship rights/options under the pension plan. You do not want your interest in the pension to die with your spouse.