Dear Carolyn,

I am in a property division trial and running out of money. I need to hire some experts to value some of the properties, such as the home and the beach house. My husband has a business that needs to be valued. I am at a loss on how to afford this, but it needs to be done. What can I do to raise this money for the equitable distribution trial?


Carolyn Answers:

You have a few legal options in your equitable distribution litigation. The court will need the value of these assets for the trial. The court has several options to help you if you ask appropriately.

Option one is filing a motion for interim distribution of marital property. In that motion, you ask for sufficient cash as an advance from your ex on your equitable distribution award for hiring appraisers. These motions for interim allocation are frequently granted.

Another option is a motion for the court to appoint joint experts with the advancing of fees for the experts by the other side. Such a motion for a joint expert will probably not be granted unless the other side (your ex) wants to use joint experts. Joint experts can be viewed as interfering with the adversarial process and your right to present your case independently of the other side. However, sometimes you get an agreement to use joint experts from the opposing attorney, particularly on fairly routine assets that are easy to value by experts.

Finally, make sure you send questions, called interrogatories, to the opposing side to determine if experts have been hired. Rules 26 and 33 of the Rules of Civil Procedure cover the legal requirements of experts and interrogatories. You should be able to find out if the other side has experts and what the opinions of the experts are. And, if you agree with the other side’s experts, you can save yourself the fees of hiring your own experts.

You need an experienced family lawyer to help you. Best wishes.


Send your family law and divorce questions to “Ask Carolyn…” at, or P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro, NC  27427. Please do not put identifying information in your questions. Note that the answers in “Ask Carolyn” are intended to provide general legal information, and the answers are not specific legal advice for your situation. The column also uses hypothetical questions. A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need in your individual case. Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by “Ask Carolyn…”