equitable distribution

Equitable Distribution: 5 Frequently Asked Questions

Equitable distribution is the issuing of property and debt obligations. In most states, the courts use this when dividing marital property during a divorce proceeding. Equitable distribution in Florida is not an equal division of property, but instead, a fair division of property. By now, you may have a few questions about equitable distribution. 

1. Which States Follow Equitable Distribution Principles? 

Not every state allows equitable distribution. Each state except for Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin follow the guidelines of equitable distribution during divorce proceedings. This means that each state not listed will allow you to use equitable distribution to divide property during a divorce. 

2. Can All Property Be Subject to Equitable Distribution? 

You will find that not all property can be divided into equitable distribution. This process only applies to marital property, otherwise known as all property that has been acquired during a couples’ marriage. Property obtained by gift bequest, descent, or devise does not count as marital property. If there is a written agreement over the property, that property will also not count as marital property. 

3. Can My Spouse and I Divide Our Own Property? 

During a divorce, you and your spouse do not have to use equitable distribution laws. It is only used if a couple going through a divorce cannot come up with a property settlement. If a couple can only determine how they will divide a portion of their estate, the court will distribute the rest. If you are able to reach an agreement with your spouse on how your assets will be divided, you can both save yourselves a lot of trouble. The key is to remain calm and to listen to one another. 

4. Are Equitable Distributions Divided Equally? 

As mentioned before, equitable distribution does not mean divided equally. The court will divide property in a way that it feels is fair. Many divorce cases will find that the court will divide their property 50/50. In other circumstances, a judge might feel that one spouse should receive a greater portion of the marital property. 

5. How Does the Court Divide Marital Property Fairly

There are a number of elements to consider when determining how to divide marital property. The court will consider: 

  • The ages and health of either spouse 
  • The financial needs and liabilities of either spouse 
  • The financial status and earning power of either spouse 
  • How much each spouse contributed to each other and towards marital property 
  • Prenuptial and premarital agreements 
  • Alimony obligations 

If your spouse is abusive to you, unfaithful to you, or abuses drugs and/or alcohol, a court will not take it into consideration when distributing marital property. The way your spouse acts with finances, however, can harm their case. For example, if your spouse is caught wrongfully transferring marital assets, they could receive a smaller percentage of the couple’s estate. 

Equitable Distribution Florida Help 

If you need assistance with your equitable distribution Florida or divorce proceedings, Paul H. Bowen Law is based in Palm Harbor, FL, and has been helping Floridians for over 20 years. Mr. Bowen has 30 years of experience working as a divorce attorney and can also help you with matters such as child support, alimony, custody suits, and prenuptial agreements. To set up a consultation, reach us at (727) 773-1554.