Equitable distribution refers to the way a couple's assets and debts are divided between the parties during a divorce and is governed by Florida Statutes Section 61.075. Pursuant to s. 61.075, in a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, in addition to all other remedies available to a court to do equity between the parties, the court shall set apart to each spouse that spouse's non-marital assets and liabilities, and in distributing the marital assets and liabilities between the parties, the court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution based on all relevant factors, including:
- The contribution to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children and services as homemaker.
- The economic circumstances of the parties.
- The duration of the marriage.
- Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party.
- The contribution of one spouse to the personal career or educational opportunity of the other spouse.
- The desirability of retaining any asset, including an interest in a business, corporation, or professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party.
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the nonmarital assets of the parties.
- The desirability of retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent child of the marriage, or any other party, when it would be equitable to do so, it is in the best interest of the child or that party, and it is financially feasible for the parties to maintain the residence until the child is emancipated or until exclusive possession is otherwise terminated by a court of competent jurisdiction. In making this determination, the court shall first determine if it would be in the best interest of the dependent child to remain in the marital home; and, if not, whether other equities would be served by giving any other party exclusive use and possession of the marital home.
- The intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after the filing of the petition or within 2 years prior to the filing of the petition.
- Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
Thus, Florida law requires that division of marital property be equitable and it is important to note that equitable does not necessarily always mean equal. Additionally, one must keep in mind that equitable distribution does not apply to property or assets that were acquired before the marriage.
Spouses who are involved in a divorce naturally want to keep what is rightfully theirs. Most couples are on board with equitable distribution and desire for marital property to be divided fairly, but that is not always the case. If you have substantial property to be divided following a divorce proceeding, it is essential that you have a qualified, seasoned family law attorney represent you and your interests during the equitable distribution process.
Contact us for a consultation regarding the distribution of assets and liabilities in your divorce case. We are committed to giving your case our full attention and are available now to speak with you. Call us today. (305) 742-5042.