How equitable distribution affects property division in Florida

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2017 | Property Division |

When you’re getting a divorce, some things seem easier to figure out than others. Property division, even when you don’t think you have much to divide, can end up being more complicated than you realize.

Who gets the couch? Does the other person get the bed? Who gets the laptop? Does the other person automatically get the Kindle? What about the dishes you bought together on vacation in New Mexico?

Little things like that can end up being big sticking points in any divorce, so it helps to understand how property is divided — which is why where you live when you divorce (or where the divorce takes place, regardless of where you’re living) matters quite a bit. States that follow equitable distribution laws differ greatly in their approach to such matters than states that follow community property laws.

Community property states — where marital property is generally divided evenly — are in the minority. Florida , like most states, follows an equitable distribution rule that says, in essence, “fair and equal aren’t always the same thing.”

Judges have a lot more power when equitable distribution is the rule being used — and they tend to exert that power in order to balance out the scales in the interest of justice. Here are the things that could be considered when it comes time to divide the family goods:

  • How long you were married — short marriages are likely to encourage judges to avoid spousal support and restore everyone’s personal items.
  • Your age, general health and ability to earn a living — judges are more likely to award spousal support in long-term marriages to a spouse that’s disabled or otherwise unable to earn a living.
  • Your behavior during the marriage — a judge may punish bad behavior if it affected the family’s finances or assets (like running up the credit cards on a paramour).
  • Your ability to replace personal items — the spouse in the better financial position to replace things like computers and televisions may lose them.

In the end, judges try to be as fair as possible about personal items. If there are a number of personal items in dispute, for example, the judge may order you and your spouse to take turns choosing, one item at a time.

For more assistance with property division issues, talk to an attorney today.

Source:, “Why Where You Divorce Matters: Equitable Distribution vs. Community Property,” David Centeno, accessed Sep. 01, 2017