What does Equitable Distribution mean?
Equitable distribution is used by most states to divide marital property in a "fair" but not necessarily "equal" way during the divorce. Prior to dividing marital property in an equitable distribution state, the court review the financial situation of each spouse, including their earnings capacity. Because of this assessment, the division of property may not be fifty-fifty.
Proponents of equitable distribution argue it allows the courts to evaluate a variety of subjective factors to determine how property should be divided. Courts that use a system of equitable distribution consider both marital property and separate property prior to property division.
Spouses who have more separate property may be given less marital property. Additionally, in an equitable distribution state the court may also consider the duration of the marriage, the age and health of each spouse, the earning capacity of the spouses, the value of each spouse's contribution to the marriage, dissipation of assets by either spouse, abuse or infidelity in the relationship and who will take care of the children after the divorce.
States which use an equitable distribution include all states except those who use community property method of property division. Community property states include California, Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.