Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary

Equitable Distribution

A legal principle followed by most states, under which assets and earnings acquired during marriage are divided equitably (fairly) at divorce. Some states start with the presumption that equitable means equal, but the court is not required to divide assets equally. In some states, a spouse who is guilty of "fault" actions like adultery may receive less than an equal share, and other factors may contribute to an unequal distribution that is still considered equitable and fair. Compare: community property