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What constitutes a fair and equitable property settlement?

When you and your spouse get a Florida divorce, the law requires that you divide your marital property fairly and equitably between you. But what exactly does “fair and equitable” mean? Unfortunately, no clear-cut definition exists. What may be fair and equitable for one couple could be completely unfair and inequitable for another.

The Huffington Post reports that while a 50/50 split of property would seem like the obvious answer to the fair and equitable conundrum, such is not always the case. You must consider additional factors as well.

Marital versus nonmarital property

For one thing, the nonmarital property that you and your spouse each own belongs to each of you separately except under rare circumstances. This separate property includes such things as the following:

  • The assets each of you already owned at the time of your marriage
  • The inheritances that either of you you received during your marriage
  • The gifts that either of you received during your marriage
  • The settlements or jury awards that either of you received during your marriage as the result of lawsuits either of you filed in your own respective name

One circumstance in which the court could consider your separate nonmarital property as marital property that must be divided fairly and equitably is that of a home or other piece of real estate that you owned prior to your marriage. If, during your marriage, your spouse made some of the mortgage payments or paid some of the taxes, etc. out of his or her own earnings, the difference between the amount of the real estate’s equity you own now as compared to the amount you owned at the beginning of your marriage could be considered marital property.

Fair and equitable factors

As stated, many factors such as the following enter into what constitutes a fair and equitable division of marital property in your particular situation:

  • Your age and health status and that of your spouse
  • The amount of employment earnings each of you makes
  • The earning potential each of you possesses
  • The standard of living you and your spouse attained during your marriage
  • The contribution, if any, that either of you made to the other during your marriage with regard to education, career advancement, etc.
  • The length of your marriage

The foregoing consists of general educational information; it does not purport to be legal advice.

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