Wilmington, NC asked in Divorce and Family Law for North Carolina

Q: If I sign a separation agreement to disperse our home equity, does that mean I can’t ask for alimony if we divorce?

My husband wants me to sign a separation agreement to give me our $40,000 home equity as a reimbursement for me having to put a $40,000 down payment on a comparably priced home when he chose to separate against my wishes. (I would like to get back together and see a marriage counselor.) Will signing the agreement and accepting the home equity preclude me from requesting alimony and a portion of his future pension if he files for divorce? (Yes, I will have a lawyer look over the agreement before I sign.)

Background: We were married in 1991 and divorced in 1993 due to his anger management issues. After both of us remarrying, having kids (I have 3 minors; he has 1 minor and 1 adult), and divorcing, we reconnected and remarried in 2011. I sold my house in TX and moved to NC so he could stay close to his sons. He left me a week after I was laid off from my job, and I haven’t found one in my field yet. I also have a brain tumor. No adultery but emotional abuse on his part.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Angela McIlveen
Angela McIlveen
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Licensed in North Carolina

A: In NC alimony and equitable distribution are separate claims in a divorce action.

Accepting the home equity would not prevent you from filing for alimony unless the agreement included a waiver of alimony. However, depending on the wording of the agreement, it could prevent you from bringing an equitable distribution claim in the future. His pension would be considered part of equitable distribution.

Also, it's important that you know that if he files for divorce and the divorce is granted before you file for alimony and equitable distribution your claims would be waived. You must file for alimony and equitable distribution before the divorce judgment is granted.

I'm glad to hear you aren't planning to sign anything without talking to a lawyer. You should do that sooner than later as a delay in filing could impact your ability to get alimony later.

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