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The difference between equal and equitable property division

Equal and equitable distribution of marital property are two concepts that are similar but are not the same. Florida is an equitable distribution state.

Understanding the difference between these concepts will help you prepare for your divorce.

What does equal distribution mean?

Equal distribution means that all marital property is equally divided between two divorcing spouses. Equal distribution can mean equally dividing physical property or equally dividing the monetary value of that property.

What does equitable distribution mean?

To achieve equitable distribution, the court starts with equal distribution and then adjusts it to be fair based on several factors:

  • Contribution of both spouses to the marriage
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Desirability of assets
  • Benefit of retaining the home for raising children
  • Intentional wasting or destruction of assets
  • Economic circumstances of both spouses

The court may also take into account interruptions that affected a spouse’s career or educational opportunities, each spouse’s contribution to shared income and other factors the court determines are relevant.

What is the purpose of equitable distribution?

Florida law recognizes that the circumstances of marriage may result in an equal 50-50 split of the marital assets being unfair to one spouse. For example, selling the family home and splitting the proceeds 50-50 may not be fair if one spouse needs a home suitable for raising children and the other can rent a one-bedroom apartment for one person to live in.

Equitable distribution provides judges with the flexibility to divide marital property in a way that is fair to both spouses based on the circumstances of the marriage and the divorce, rather than arbitrarily dividing everything equally.


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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