Couples who divorce in Florida sometimes argue bitterly over the division of their property. However, Florida laws address the distribution of assets by mandating their equitable distribution.
Understanding the difference between equitable and equal distribution can reduce the time, money, and hostility that often accompanies divorce.
What does equitable mean?
Unless you and your spouse reach an arrangement you can agree upon, a Florida judge will determine an equitable distribution of your property when you divorce. The judge considers various circumstances to determine what is fair, including:
- The length of the marriage
- Sacrifices of one spouse for the career of another
- The number of children the spouses share
- The earning potential and income of both spouses
An equitable distribution may provide one spouse with a larger share of the assets than the other.
What does equal mean?
Some states label any assets spouses accumulate during their marriage, including retirement accounts, as community property. However, even though Florida courts do not uphold community property guidelines, divorcing spouses may still divide their property equally to avoid a judge’s involvement.
What happens to debt?
Any debt from credit cards, bank loans, or other sources is also subject to equitable division when couples divorce. For example, a judge will consider all marital liabilities when dividing assets to ensure fairness to each party.
What happens to pre-marital assets?
Florida’s equitable distribution laws apply only to the assets and property couples acquire during their marriage. In most cases, the parties may retain pre-marital assets, including inheritances, real estate and art. However, the value by which these assets increase during a marriage may be subject to equitable distribution.
You can effectively protect your rights during your Florida divorce when you understand the law and are willing to compromise.