Equitable Law & Legal Definition


Equitable refers to something characterized by fairness, impartiality, or lack of bias. '''Equity''' is the name given to the whole area of the legal system in countries following the English common law tradition that resolves disputes between persons by applying principles of fairness and justness. Courts of equity apply equitable principles to grant equitable remedies, such as  injunctions or decrees directing someone either to act or to forebear from acting, while courts of law apply the law to award money damages. In the U.S. today, the federal courts and most state courts have combined both law and equity in the same courts, so a plaintiff can get legal and equitable relief in one proceeding. 

Most states use "equitable distribution" in dividing marital (community) property as a result of the termination of marriage (divorce). Instead of an arbitrary fifty-fifty split, in which each spouse receives exactly one-half of the marital or separate property, equitable distribution looks at the financial situation that each spouse will be in after the termination of the marriage. Traditionally, spousal support was only awarded to a wife, whereas under equitable distribution, support may be awarded to either spouse.