What is Equitable Distribution of Property?

On behalf of The Law Offices of Cindy D. Sackrin posted in Divorce on Thursday, September 11, 2014.

In the United States, different states provide for different methods of property distribution upon divorce. Throughout the United States, nine states follow community property division rules and the remaining states follow equitable division rules with some special nuances for Alaska. In Florida, equitable distribution rules are followed for the division of property when a couple divorces.

Equitable property distribution, and community property distribution for that matter, is a method of dividing property between spouses in the event of a divorce. Today, equitable property division rules take into account the contributions of non-wage earning spouses as homemakers and the spouse that primarily contributes to child rearing. Prior to recognition of these contributions, property division laws favored the wage-earning spouse to the disadvantage of the spouse that cared for the home and children.

In general, there are two broad categories, or types, of property recognized by the courts in divorce situations. These two types of property are marital and separate property. Marital property is acquired by the spouses during the marriage. On the other hand, separate property is considered property that one spouse entered the marriage with and did not substantially change the status of during the marriage. In general, only property that is classified as marital property will be divided.

The equitable division of property does not always mean the equal division of property; it represents the court's efforts, when looking at the complete circumstances of the parties, to achieve a fair distribution for both that allows both each party to exit the marriage as financially self-sufficient as possible. There are a variety of factors that most courts will consider when dividing property equitably through the equitable division process. Because property division can be a significant concern for spouses going through the divorce process, it can be helpful to understand how property is divided and what considerations are examined when making property distribution decisions.

Source: Cornel University Law School Legal Information Institute, "Divorce and Separation: an Overview," Accessed Sept. 9, 2014

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