Legal Question in Family Law in North Carolina

trust fund

I have been married for 17 years, have three children with my husband and divorce is now imminent. I have not worked outside the home for the entire marriage. From the beginning I have asked my husband about setting up a retirement fund for us and a college fund for the children. He comes from a wealthy family and has always said that there is no need to do this because he has a trust set up for him by his father. It is a family trust in his and his brothers names to which his father makes yearly gifts. The fund was started after we were married. Now that we are to be divorced I am wondering if I, or my children, have any legal claim to a portion of this fund. As it is now, I have nothing for retirement, no income, and no money for my soon to be colllege age children.

Asked on 5/09/03, 8:54 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

John McNeil Haas McNeil & Associates, PA

Re: trust fund

First, given the length of the marriage and your homemaker responsibilities for the entire marriage, depending on the facts of the case, you may have an entitlement to alimony. Also, you may have a claim for post-separation support which would allow you the financial support to defend his claims and prosecute your claims.

In answer to your question regarding the trust, it certainly depends. If your husband has contributed money to the trust or funneled money to his family to put into the trust, then he has actually contributed marital funds into the trust and you may have a property claim to a portion of that trust.

In order to protect your alimony and property claims, you will need to petition to court for those prior to your divorce. If you fail to assert your claims you will more than likely lose them upon the entry of divorce.

After a complaint for divorce has been filed, there is a very limited period of time in which you must respond or your claims will be lost. If there have already been divorce papers filed and served on you, you need to immediately contact an attorney and ensure that your rights and claims are preserved.

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Answered on 5/10/03, 9:03 am

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