By Jim Warren
At Warren Family Law, we get questions from time to time about a concept known as interim distribution. Usually, a person going through a separation and divorce hears the term from a friend or family member, and, seeking relief from financial strain caused by the separation, looks for answers.
Basically, an interim distribution is a distribution in advance of settlement or trial, allowed by North Carolina law. What causes the need for an interim distribution? It’s simple, really, and quite common—one spouse has greater access to the couple’s wealth, such as having a much larger (or the only) paycheck, accounts in their name, deeds to property, or cash and investments acquired before the marriage (known as separate property here in North Carolina). Sometimes while trying to negotiate a settlement or winding through the litigation process, folks need to access some funds to provide the liquidity they need.
So can you request an interim distribution just because you’re not getting as much out of the marriage? Well, it’s not that easy. You may petition the family court for an advance on your separation settlement, or trial, but only in certain verifiable financial circumstances, such as money to pay bills, money to hire an attorney, and money to hire appraisers.
Often, those who successfully petition the court for an interim distribution often have more than one aggravating circumstance. For example, one spouse, who has less income than the other, may also be the one moving out of the family home.
Ultimately, if one party does petition for an interim distribution, it’s simply a precursor to the equitable distribution of property and assets, acquired both before and during the marriage. Distributive awards, including interim distributions, can come in lump sums or divided into periodic payments.
If you are considering ending your marriage, you’re naturally going to have lots of questions about concepts like interim distribution. It’s important that you know all of your options and make informed decisions during these trying times. People tend to compound their problems when they operate from a position of ignorance of their own rights and available resources.