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“Equitable Distribution” Florida Statute §61.075

equitable-distributionTampa family law attorneys are frequently asked questions about dividing property during dissolution of marriage, a practice that is known as “equitable distribution.” All property acquired and all income earned during a marriage is generally considered ‘marital’ and is subject to ‘equitable distribution.’ Please be aware that ‘equitable’ does not necessarily mean ‘equal,’ although a 50-50 split is generally the goal. However, property that is acquired before the marriage occurs, or after the date of filing for dissolution of marriage (and any property acquired by gift or inheritance kept in separate names, even if it occurs during the marriage), is generally considered to be ‘non-marital’ and would excluded from distribution.

“Property” includes pretty much anything you have that could be described an ‘asset.’ This includes things like realty, i.e. real property (your home, rental properties, investment properties, timeshares), vehicles (cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats), financial interests (bank accounts, investments, retirement portfolios & programs, stock accounts, life insurance cash value), equipment, businesses, the business’s accounts receivable, and personality, i.e., personal movable property (such as furniture, clothing, jewelry, pets, etc.).

Not all property is an ‘asset.’ The concept of property to be divided by equitable distribution includes debts incurred during the marriage. Debts can be secured debts (mortgage or car loan) or unsecured debts (credit cards). It is important to recognize that a particular creditor is generally not bound by a divorce settlement agreement or even by the court’s order dissolving your marriage if their contract is with both parties. If the party who agrees to (or is ordered to) pay a particular joint marital debt in a dissolution of marriage and that party does not pay the debt, then the original creditor will go after both parties under the original contract. The only recourse this other party may have is to pay the creditor to preserve credit status and then pursue the non-paying former spouse under the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.