Does “equitable” mean “equal?”

On Behalf of | Mar 23, 2018 | Firm News, Florida Family Law |

As you prepare for your divorce in Hernando County, there are many who may tell you that you are entitled to exactly half of all your marital assets. They have good reason to believe so; after all, per Section 61.075 of the Florida State Statutes, the state does follow the model of equitable distribution when dividing property during divorce. Like many, you may use the words “equitable” and “equal” interchangeably. However, the exact definition of “equitable” is “fair and impartial,” not necessarily equal. 

Indeed, the law goes on to say that while the court enters property division proceedings with the presumption that assets should be divided equally, it does indeed consider unequal distributions based on a number of different factors. These include: 

  • The contributions both you and your spouse made to your marriage
  • The current economic circumstances of both you and your spouse
  • How long you were married
  • Any career sacrifices either of you made to raise your children or support the other’s career ambitions
  • The contributions each you may have made to improving (or detracting from) the value of your marital and non-marital assets

Who should get your marital home is also considered. Following the equal distribution model, logic would dictate that you sell the home and split the proceeds. Yet what if you retain primary custody of the kids and do not want to uproot them from the neighborhood? In that case, the court may choose to award you ownership of the home. 

Yours and your spouse’s role in incurring debts is also taken into consideration when dividing property (and debts). If, for example, your spouse chose to rack up significant credit card debt immediately after your separation, he or she may be given the sole responsibility of repaying it.