Dear Carolyn,

Can wife No. 1 be rewarded over $300,000 lump sum in a nasty divorce of a less than two-year childless marriage (paid by parents) and wife No. 2 of nearly 20 years, children and loving family be physically and emotionally abused, forced from home, told every move to make by in-laws, to end up with a divorce resulting in nothing at all?


Carolyn Answers,

Wow! Your facts are compelling and quite engaging. I am not sure who the writer is, but you may be a family member of wife No. 2. The scenario seems on its face to be unjust. Typically, long-term spouses (20-years) receive half the marital property in equitable distribution (property division in North Carolina). If the spouse is dependent, the spouse receives spousal support. So several possibilities come to my mind. First, were there premarital agreements causing the differential in either case? Second, were counsel equally qualified. Third, was there mental illness or substance abuse. Fourth, was there substantial marital property in the wife No. 1 case – even though earned over a short term? Did the couple win the lottery in that two years?

Physically and emotional abuse are both domestic violence. Sometimes, spouses need to exit the situation for reasons of abuse. Did that happen? Was spouse No. 2 afraid to stay in the case and get her fair share?

I would love to know more facts concerning this- so if you want to write again, please do.


Send your questions on family law and divorce matters 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…”  “Ask Carolyn…” will be a regular column, but not necessarily weekly.