J. Gregory Hatcher | Divorce Attorney
Married parties who separate may request from the court an equitable distribution of their marital and divisible property. The parties can also ask the court to make a designation as to what property is considered their separate property and have that separate property returned to them.
When a claim for equitable distribution is made, the parties are expected to comply with not only the statute and laws related to bringing and prosecuting their claims, but also to provide documents if properly requested through the various forms of discovery. Because of the nature of the claims and the crowding of our family courts, equitable distribution cases may take months, if not years, to be heard.
Numerous conferences are required and alternative dispute resolution must also be completed by the parties before they can have a hearing before a judge. The goal of the various conferences and the alternative dispute resolution requirement is to allow the parties to gather as much information as possible and to help settle their case without the need for a judge’s involvement.
Because equitable distribution claims are complex and time consuming, the question is often asked whether attorney’s fees can be reimbursed from the opposing party. North Carolina General Statutes typically do not provide for attorney’s fees to be granted in these cases. The very small exception is found in our statute and applies to specific circumstances which could give rise to a claim for attorney’s fees. These factors involve a purposeful delay by one party and/or the purposeful refusal or failure to provide necessary documents. However, the parties should also remember that the determination of attorney’s fees in this situation is completely in the judge’s discretion.
Greg Hatcher is a highly experienced divorce attorney in Charlotte, NC. He has been named to the North Carolina Super Lawyers list since 2010 and also recognized among the state’s “Legal Elite” by Business North Carolina magazine. As a Board Certified Specialist in Family Law, Mr. Hatcher has represented clients in child custody and support, divorce, alimony, domestic violence and other family law related cases for more than 17 years.