If you are looking to divorce, it is important to remember that the location in which you file has a significant impact on the way in which your property will be split up. Florida residents should know that property division is largely dependent upon the jurisdiction in which the divorce occurs. Courts in different states may have entirely different rules about even the most simple property division — so it pays to choose wisely, right from the start.

Most states follow rules that are known as equitable distribution guidelines. Equitable distribution is not the same as equal distribution — rather, this principle focuses on dividing property fairly, considering the couple’s individual circumstances. Judges are given a significant amount of leeway in making choices based on health, education, and age of the spouses in the cases. Property division in equitable distribution states also affects child support and alimony payments. Luckily, some states prevent judges from using equitable distribution to throw one of the parties into poverty, but not everyone enjoys these protections.

Community property states, on the other hand, generally require judges to split the couple’s joint assets evenly down the middle. This expedites the divorce process, but it may not leave both parties in “equitable” standing after the divorce concludes. Only nine community property states exist, with most located in the western United States.

Your choice in divorce jurisdiction can have an effect on the way in which property division is approached. The property obtained during the marriage will be subject to different rules depending on the state in which you divorce, so it makes sense to consult a Florida attorney to make sure you are making the right choice for your individual situation. Simply choosing the right jurisdiction could have a major impact on your ability to recover funds from your marital property and holdings.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Why Where You Divorce Matters: Equitable Distribution vs. Community Property,” David Centeno, accessed Jan. 13, 2017