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Marital property and equitable distribution in Florida

Dividing property can be one of the most complex and contentious elements in a divorce. If parties cannot reach a mutual agreement, a judge will attempt to divide property between parties equitably.

Many people tend to expect that the equitable distribution of property involves dividing property equally in a fifty-fifty split. In reality, courts try to make divisions as fair as reasonably possible to both parties. Courts do not divide all of the property that both parties own but rather only marital property.

How do courts determine if property is marital?

The first step in the process of equitable distribution is to identify what property is part of the marital estate. It is important for parties to divorce proceedings to understand that courts in Florida follow a presumption that all of the property that they own is marital. Parties who want to show that property is exempt from division have the legal burden of proving that they own it separately.

How do parties show that property is separate?

In order to effectively demonstrate that an asset is separate, it is not necessary to establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, the evidence needs to show only that a party’s assertion of facts is more likely than not to be true. Examples of separately owned property include gifts and inheritances.

After courts distinguish marital and separate property, they will evaluate several factors concerning the parties’ finances such as their respective wealth and earning capacity. In principle, the equitable distribution of property should not cause undue hardship nor unjust enrichment to divorcing spouses.


Christine S. Cook has earned a reputation in the legal community for her professionalism and among her clients for the care and personal attention she gives to every case.

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