In the recent case of Nicks v. Nicks, 774 SE2d 365 (NC App 2015), husband transferred property acquired during the marriage to an LLC and the LLC thereafter was transferred to a trust. All of this occurred before the date of separation. Understandably, the trial judge in the equitable distribution action filed after the parties separated felt that the property transferred to the LLC should be classified as marital property and distributed between the spouses, so the trial court classified the LLC itself as marital property and distributed it the husband as his share of the marital estate. The court of appeals vacated the ED judgment and remanded the case to the trial court after concluding the LLC was not marital property because it was not owned by either or both spouses on the date of separation.
Does this mean a spouse can avoid ED simply by transferring ownership of property to an LLC or other third party before the date of separation, or by allowing family members or others to hold legal title to property acquired with marital funds during the marriage?