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Domestic Relations – Equitable Distribution – Marital Home – Separate Property – Debt Distribution

Even if the trial court erroneously distributed $5,000 of debt on the marital home – found to be the defendant-Wife’s separate property – to the plaintiff-Husband, this did not prejudice him since it effectively lowered the distributive award to Wife.

We affirm the trial court’s equitable distribution order.

Wife owned real property prior to the parties’ marriage, a home was built thereon during the marriage, and the property was encumbered by a loan in Wife’s name. The trial court classified the home as separate property but mistakenly identified “Plaintiff” (i.e., Husband) as the owner. The trial court found the home to be worth $135,000 with a debt of $140,000.

The trial court distributed (-$5,000) to Husband, apparently distributing a portion of the debt on the home to Husband. Even if this “distribution” were error, Husband has not shown how it prejudiced him. If this negative $5,000 distribution to Husband had not been included in the order, the trial court would have found the value of marital assets being distributed to Husband to be $5,000 greater, which would have required the trial court to order a larger distributive award to Wife.

McLeod v. McLeod (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-565-22, 5 pp.) (Chris Dillon, J.) Appealed from Iredell County District Court (Dale Graham, J.) Patricia Riddick for plaintiff; no brief for defendant. 2022-NCCOA-867

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