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Think you don't have property to divide in a divorce? Think again

We read about high profile, celebrity divorces in the news just about every day. In fact, it seems to happen so often that million-dollar settlements and fights over summer homes can seem almost normal.

But the truth is most divorces will not end up making headlines, and they won't involve disputes over who gets which luxury car. Most people have far less sensational splits, but that doesn't make them any less devastating. And it doesn't mean that the process of dividing assets will go smoothly.

Every divorce in North Carolina will likely involve discussions about property division. Even if you think there's not much at stake, you could learn very quickly that there is much more on the line than you expected.

For starters, you should know that marital debts are eligible for equitable distribution, just as marital property is. This means that both you and your ex can wind up with the obligation to repay debt long after your settlement is final.

Beside debt, you will also have to address distribution of:

· Your home

· Income, including bonuses

· Cars you own or lease

· Lottery winnings

· Furniture

· Jewelry

· Life insurance policies

· Items with sentimental value

· Pets

In every divorce, these and other properties will be part of the distribution process. While some assets may ultimately be classified as separate property, failure to designate them as such would leave these items eligible for division.

Too many people think that they can just divide up their bank accounts and call it a day. However, you could wind up leaving yourself exposed to financial liabilities unnecessarily and miss out on receiving a fair settlement if you try to breeze through this step without carefully assessing the specifics of your situation.

Just because you don't have millions of dollars doesn't mean you have nothing to at stake in your divorce. Together with your attorney, you should take the time to examine thoroughly your separate and marital assets to calculate and fight for your fair share of your marital estate.