Getting Your Fair Share of the Pie with Equitable Distribution

When it comes to family law in Tallahassee and Tallahassee divorces, cutting up the pie of marital assets is rarely a piece of cake. In most cases, this subject makes the divorce contentious, which prevents it from being an amicable Tallahassee divorce. To make matters worse, Florida and the majority of the other states follow the legal principle of equitable distribution for dividing marital property and assets, which have no set rules in determining who receives what or how much. Since these systems are very flexible and difficult to predict, it’s vital to use the best Tallahassee family law attorney to protect your interests and financial future. The following information is designed to provide an explanation of marital vs separate property as well as the equitable distribution system.  

Tallahassee Marital vs Separate Property

As a general rule of thumb, the goal of a divorce is to split the marital property. Marital property is any property purchased or acquired during the marriage, while separate property are the assets gained before or after the marriage. In the most simple sense, only Tallahassee marital property can be divided through the courts, but there are always exceptions. For instance, if the property was gifted by a third party, acquired through inheritance, an agreement, or if the property was acquired by using an individual’s separate property, it may be considered separate property and not divisible by the courts. If one spouse looks to claim a piece of property acquired during the marriage that is considered to be separate property, they must prove their claim. In any case, it’s vital to use an experienced Tallahassee divorce attorney to help you present your case over involving marital vs separate property in Tallahassee.

What is Equitable Distribution?

In Florida and 40 other states, the courts use the equitable distribution principle for dividing marital assets, which is when the courts divide the debt and the marital property equitably or fairly. When it comes to Tallahassee joint accounts, assets, and liabilities in a divorce, an “equal division” and “fair division” are not always the same thing. Florida’s family law courts can award unequal divisions of assets, which is usually the case. In any case, there are several factors the courts use to determine the equitable distribution in Florida.

Factors Affecting Equitable Distribution

There are several factors affecting the outcome of an equitable distribution. Some of the most common factors are considered by the courts are:  

  • Mental and physical health
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Age of both spouses
  • Each spouse’s earning capacity
  • The size of party’s separate estate

Earning Power in Equitable Distribution

As a result of the consideration of these factors, courts can award one party a relatively lopsided distribution. For instance, if one spouse has a medical condition that could affect their future earning power, Tallahassee’s family law courts may be more inclined to distributed more of the marital property to that spouse. The courts will almost always consider each spouse’s earning power and the value they contributed to the marriage. In other words, Tallahassee family law courts may not always award you and your spouse the same amount.

Child Custody and Equitable Distribution

One of the most important factors affecting equitable distribution is the parent with Tallahassee child custody. The parent with the most parental guardianship or the parent who has custody of the children will typically be awarded the larger share of the marital property. Equitable distribution is also an important factor in Tallahassee child support cases as well as Tallahassee alimony and spousal support. In the event your divorce includes either of these factors, it’s vital to have the best Tallahassee family law attorney protect your rights, interests, and financial future.

Equitable Distribution Penalties

The courts can also factor in any missing cash or cash withdrawn from joint accounts in the final distribution. At the same time, the courts can use equitable distribution to enforce a penalty on one spouse if they significantly dissipated or wasted marital property, either after separation or during the marriage. Some states even penalize the spouse if there were issues of infidelity or domestic abuse in the marriage.

Is Equitable Distribution Always Necessary?

It’s vital to understand laws equitable distribution laws are only applied in court and are the last resort to resolve the Tallahassee divorce. All divorced couples have the opportunity to work the distribution of assets out on their own, with the assistance of Tallahassee divorce attorneys, and through Tallahassee family law mediation. During these negotiations, spouses are free to divide their property in any manner they see fit. However, if they are unable to reach an agreement, a Florida family law judge will more than likely apply the equitable distribution law, which typically results in both parties leaving unhappy. In certain divorces, spouses may be able to divide up a piece of the marital property and leave the remainder for the courts to decide.  

Marital Property vs Separate Property in Equitable Distribution

Although marital property and separate property are viewed separately in Tallahassee, courts will take both of these assets into consideration in an equitable distribution. However, the courts will only distribute the marital property. Florida’s family law courts consider both marital and separate property because it may have an effect on the equitable distribution of the property. For instance, if one spouse has very little separate property and the other spouse has an abundance of valuable property, the courts usually will allocate more of the marital property to the spouse with little.

Equitable Distribution Law vs Community Property Law

On the other hand, Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin are community property states. In these states, spouses are deemed to equally own all of marital property. In other words, regardless of who did what in the marriage, both spouses equally own all of the money earned during the marriage, even if only one spouse is employed. In these states, community property laws also pertains to the debts, which makes both spouses equally liable for debts. While Florida’s equitable distribution laws aim to reach an equitable and fair distribution of assets and debts, community property laws simply split everything down the middle with each party receiving half of all debts and assets gained in the marriage.

Simply put, figuring out who gets what and how much can be extremely difficult. Since you and your spouse are responsible for acquiring the assets and debts, it’s usually best for you and your ex spouse to come to an agreement over the division of those assets and debts. Allowing Florida’s family law courts to use the equitable distribution law should only be used as the last resort. In any case, it’s best to prevent it from ever getting to this point by using effective Tallahassee divorce mediation, family law mediation, divorce attorneys, and/or Tallahassee family law attorneys.  However, not all family law and divorce attorneys are the same in Tallahassee. It’s vital to understand the top ways to choose a Tallahassee family law attorney and how to find a divorce attorney in Tallahassee.

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