Equitable Distribution

There are very few cases that do not involve equitable distribution of assets or liabilities. If there are absolutely no assets or liabilities to distribute then equitable distribution is not applicable. However, that is not your case. As with many other states throughout the United States, matrimonial law has developed into a concept of equitable distribution. Equitable distribution does not require an equal distribution of the assets and liabilities. Equitable does not necessarily mean equal.

However, many of the court decisions in the last thirty-six months or so suggest to the trial court judge that a 50/50 division of the assets and liabilities is a good starting point. If either party wants more or less than a 50/50 split of the assets and/or liabilities then the burden is on that party to present evidence and reasons to the court. I think it will be helpful for you to understand the equitable distribution law as found in Florida Statute 61.075. A familiarity with the statute will be helpful when trying to negotiate or litigate the issues.

Pursuant to Florida Statute 61.075(1) in any proceeding for dissolution of marriage, the court shall set apart to each spouse that spouse’s non-marital assets and liabilities and shall distribute between the parties the marital assets and liabilities in such proportions as are equitable. The statute goes on to define what is a marital asset and what is a non-marital asset. However, Florida Statute 61.075(1)(a) list some factors that the court can consider in making an equitable distribution award. Those factors are as follows:

  • (a) The contribution to a marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children and services as homemaker.
  • (b) The economic circumstances of the parties.
  • (c) The duration of the marriage.
  • (d) An interruption of careers or educational opportunities of either party.
  • (e) The contribution of one spouse to the personal career or educational opportunity of the other spouse.
  • (f) The desirability of retaining any asset, including an interest in the business, corporation or professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party.
  • (g) 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 non-marital assets of the parties.
  • (h) The desirability of retaining the marital home as a residence of any dependent child of the marriage, or any other party, when it would be equitable to do so, it is the best interest of that child of the marriage, or any other party, when it would be equitable to do so, it is in the best interest of that child and the 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 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 and other party exclusive use and possession of the marital home.
  • (i) Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.

About the Author

Stephen Butter