In a community property state, all property is presumed to be jointly owned unless proven otherwise and as a result it is divided equally during a divorce. However, in an equitable distribution state, title of property doesn't determine whether property is marital or not. In the case of divorce, the property will be divided between spouses in a fair and equitable manner. There is no set rule in determining who receives what or how much. The court considers a variety of factors to arrive at what is equitable—equitable does not mean equal.
How does a court determine what is equitable? The first step is to identify all of the marital property that the parties have acquired during the marriage. The second step is to value the marital property. Once all the marital property is identified and valued, the court looks at the total marital property titled in each spouse’s name. If there is an unequal allocation of the marital property in one spouse's name, then the court can make a monetary award to the spouse that has less marital property titled in his or her name.