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Equitable distribution refers to the way that that marital property and debts are distributed in Florida. Florida law requires an equitable division but also says that in most cases equitable means equal. Many times trying to determine what is marital and what is not, becomes the battle of the litigation.
Before distribution, it must be determined if either spouse owns any property separately which is not subject to division in divorce. Separate property can be if one spouse owned the property before marriage, acquired it as a gift (not from the other spouse) or by inheritance.
Unless there is a valid written agreement stating otherwise, marital property in Florida includes all assets and debts either spouse acquires during the marriage.
Couples can make their own agreements about dividing property on their own or by using a mediator. Courts will typically recognize the agreement if they’re in writing and the spouses have used an attorney to confer with about the arrangements. However, if the couple cannot come to terms, an arbitrator or a judge can make the division of property after considering a number of factors such as the length of the marriage, individual economic circumstances, if the minor children or either spouse would be better off living at the marital home. Other factors include how each spouse contributed to the marriage, if one spouse interrupted their career or education for the other, the debts and liabilities and whether assets were intentionally wasted or destroyed at the time of the divorce petition or two years preceding it.
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