equitable distribution

Equitable Distribution: How It Works and Who Gets What

Through the course of a marriage, it’s common for couples to acquire assets that they both hold dear. When going through a divorce, the difficult nature of determining who will get to keep each item can be emotionally and legally complicated. A common term you may have heard of, perhaps from a friend who has been divorced, is equitable distribution.

What it Means

Equitable distribution is the method of dividing “marital property” at the time of divorce. Marital property is an asset that was acquired during a marriage. Items that previously belonged to one spouse or the other are excluded along with assets acquired after separation. The guiding principles of equitable distribution remain the same throughout participating states. States that do not participate include Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Not considered marital property:

  • Property obtained by gift
  • Property obtained by bequest
  • Property obtained by descent
  • Property otherwise provided for in a written agreement

How it Works

Though many assume equitable distribution means property will be distributed equally between spouses, that may not be the case. Couples may negotiate the distribution of their assets away from the court, and in most cases, those arrangements will be honored. However, if the court is responsible for presiding over equitable distribution, they will take many things into consideration, and the distribution will be fair, but in most cases, not equal.

Factors the court may consider when determining equitable distribution:

  • The financial condition and earning power of each spouse
  • The value of each spouse’s “separate property”
  • The degree to which each spouse contributed to the acquisition of marital property
  • The degree to which each spouse contributed to the education and earning power of the other
  • Each spouse’s future needs and liabilities
  • The age and health of each spouse
  • Premarital and prenuptial agreements
  • The liquidity of marital property
  • Alimony obligations

What is usually not considered by the court:

  • Adultery
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Criminal behavior

A spouses behavior or actions will be relevant as they relate to the acquisition or loss of assets. For example, if a spouse was fraudulently selling or acquiring marital property, then they’re actions will yield them fewer assets.

Who Gets What?

Determining how much either party will receive in an equitable distribution is something that varies on a case by case basis. An article such as this can simplify the process overall, but the truth is each case is different, and the laws governing equitable distribution are complex. Determining who gets what is not predetermined when going into a court case for the distribution.

The process of equitable distribution is complex, emotional and – usually – hotly contested. Divorce is an emotionally difficult time, and as such, going through the process without the help of a legal professional is not recommended. The specific Florida divorce laws that may pertain to your case might not have been covered in the lists above.

Florida Divorce Attorney You Can Trust

If you or someone you know is looking for a quality Florida divorce attorney to handle their equitable distribution or in need of a family practice attorney, the law offices of Paul H. Bowen, P.A. can help. The longer you wait to consult a legal professional for advice, the further behind you’ll be. Call our office today to set up a free consultation at (727) 773-1554.