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How Do Judges Decide What Is Fair When Determining Equitable Distribution?


No matter where you live, and no matter how wealthy you are, the chances are that you will emerge from your divorce feeling like you suffered heavier financial losses as a result of the breakup of your marriage than your ex-spouse did.  People who live in community property states, such as California, base their complaints on the fact that the court divided the marital property equally, and their ex-spouse does not deserve half of the speaker’s hard-earned money.  You might think that the grass is greener in equitable distribution states like Florida, where judges decide on a case-by-case basis how to divide the marital property.  Women emerge from the process feeling like the judge hates women, and men emerge from it feeling like the judge hates men.  Equitable distribution is not arbitrary, though.  In some cases, judges must start by assuming that an equal distribution would be the fairest solution and then adjust the property division scheme to correct any unfair hardships that an equal division would create.  While it is not possible to reduce equitable distribution to a mathematical formula, these are the guidelines that judges must consider when dividing a couple’s property in divorce.  The best way to get a fair share of property in divorce, with or without going to trial, is to contact a Boca Raton divorce lawyer.

It Matters How Long the Couple Was Married

The duration of the marriage is the first factor to consider, because it affects the definition of equitable, which means fair.  The shorter the marriage, the more the goal is to return both parties to the financial circumstances they would be in if the marriage had never happened.  The longer the marriage lasts, the more the goal becomes to keep both parties at the same standard of living they had during the marriage.

Each Spouse’s Income and Separate Property

For the parties to continue their lifestyle after the divorce, each party should keep his or her separate assets plus whatever share of the marital wealth would be most conducive to a continuation of the marital standard of living.  This often means that the spouse with lower income and less separate property gets more marital property.

Unpaid Labor Counts as a Contribution to the Marriage

Your protestations that your ex is taking “your hard-earned money” will get you nowhere in divorce court.  Marital property includes money earned by either spouse during the marriage, no matter whose name is on the pay stub.  The court assumes that unpaid work such as child care, elder care, and housework count as contributions to the family’s wellbeing, just as employment income does.

Contact Schwartz | White About Property Division in Divorce

A South Florida family law attorney can help you get a fair share of marital property in your divorce, even if you were out of the workforce during your marriage, or your spouse earns much more money than you do.  Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.



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