The Carroll Law FirmThe Carroll Law Firm

Fort Lauderdale Based Equitable Distribution Lawyer

Ensuring Fairness and Harmony: Navigating the Path to Equitable Distribution for Families in Transition

Equitable Distribution Overview

Marital assets and liabilities are subject to equitable distribution in a Florida Dissolution of Marriage. The equitable distribution Statute is Section 61.075, Florida Statutes. The statute requires the trial court to equitably divide the spouses' marital assets and liabilities during an action for dissolution of marriage. The court then decides the date the assets are to be valued.

The court starts with the premise of dividing marital assets and debts 50/50. The law requires that a court equally distribute the marital assets unless a “legally sufficient justification for an unequal distribution is given based on the relevant statutory factors.” The case law on this is found in Hitchcock v. Hitchcock.

Statutory Factors for Unequal Distribution

When courts perform an equitable distribution of marital property in Florida, it will consider the following factors as listed under s. 61.075, Florida Statutes:

  • The contribution to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children and services as homemaker.
  • The economic circumstances of the parties.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party.
  • The contribution of one spouse to the personal career or educational opportunity of the other spouse.
  • The desirability of retaining any asset, including an interest in a business, corporation, or professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party.
  • The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the nonmarital assets of the parties.
  • The desirability of retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent child of the marriage, or any other party, when it would be equitable to do so, it is in the best interest of the child or that party, and it is financially feasible for the parties to maintain the residence until the child is emancipated or until a court of competent jurisdiction otherwise terminates exclusive possession. In making this determination, the court shall first determine if it would be in the dependent child(ren)'s best interest(s) to remain in the marital home. If not, whether other equities would be served by giving any other party exclusive use and possession of the marital home.
  • The intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after the filing of the petition or within 2 years prior to the filing of the petition.
  • Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.

The court decides the property that will be available for distribution and the total value of marital property by the following: (1) setting the cut-off date for assets and liabilities to be considered marital, (2) classifying the property as marital or nonmarital, (3) setting the valuation date for marital property, and (4) valuing marital property.

Common Questions

Here are the two most common questions clients ask us regarding Equitable Distribution:

  • How long will this take? The duration of equitable distribution varies case by case, influenced by factors such as complexity, cooperation, and court schedules. A tailored timeline can be discussed during our consultation.

  • How much will this cost? The legal costs of equitable distribution depends on case intricacies, negotiations, and any potential court proceedings. We provide transparent fee structures and discuss financial aspects during our consultation to ensure clarity and alignment with your needs.

The Legal Process

Here's a general overview of the steps involved in navigating a Equitable Distribution with us. From initial consultations to final agreements, we break down each stage, providing clarity and guidance to help you understand what to expect. Our aim is to make the legal journey as smooth and informed as possible, ensuring you feel supported at every turn.

  1. Initial Consultation: We begin with a comprehensive review of your situation, offering personalized legal advice and outlining a strategic approach for your equitable distribution case.

  2. Financial Analysis and Negotiation: We'll conduct a detailed analysis of all marital assets and liabilities, working towards a negotiated settlement that respects both parties' interests and legal rights.

  3. Court Proceedings (if needed): If negotiations don't yield an agreement, we are prepared to represent and advocate for your interests in court, ensuring a fair and just resolution in line with equitable distribution laws.