Dividing Property in Washington Divorce

Posted On August 6, 2022 Divorce,Family Law,Property Division

Washington is a community property state, which means any property acquired throughout a marriage is divided equally in divorce. Our Spokane divorce lawyers are here to explain asset division for a Washington divorce.

Asset Division in Washington

The court must first determine which assets are community property, their fair market value, and which are separate (belonging to only one spouse). For example, that can include:

  • Wages/salaries
  • Cash
  • Personal property (checking and savings accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds)
  • Real estate (homes, office buildings, shopping centers)
  • Intangible property (copyrights, patents, trademarks)
  • 401(k) retirement plans
  • Pensions
  • Life insurance
  • Furniture and electronics
  • Commingled property (separate property that has mixed with community funds, e.g., money from an inheritance deposited into a joint checking account)

Spouses are entitled to an equal share, but that does not mean the court will split each asset in half.

Factors Considered in Community Property Division

The court may also consider the following factors when dividing community property:

  • The amount of each type of property, including separate property.
  • The length of the marriage. In short-term (below five years) and childless marriages, the court may order the spouses to return to the financial state they were in before the marriage.
  • The financial condition of each spouse after the divorce is finalized. The court will not allow one spouse to be wealthy while the other is very poor.

Unless the spouses come to their own agreement, the court will have the final say on how marital assets are divided and when property will remain separate.

What is Separate Property?

Any property and debts belonging to one spouse before the marriage and after the date of separation are not considered marital property but separate property. Separate property typically includes:

  • Money earned before the marriage and after the date of separation
  • Real estate owned by one spouse before the marriage
  • An inheritance given to one spouse during the marriage
  • Property given to one spouse during the marriage

However, separate property can become commingled with community property. For instance, if both spouses’ names are on the deed to an inherited house, or money from an inheritance was deposited into a joint checking account. As a result, it may be challenging to convince the court that your commingled separate property should not be subject to division.

Spousal Maintenance

In Washington, the court may order spousal support based on a spouse’s duty to support the other after divorce if dependency has been established. The amount and duration are decided after consideration of factors, such as:

  • Each party’s separate property
  • Each spouse’s ability to meet their needs independently
  • Whether any dependent children live with each individual
  • The standard of living established during the marriage and what it will take to upkeep it
  • The earning ability, job skills, and job market for each party’s profession.
  • The time needed for a dependent spouse to obtain training or education to increase their earning ability.

Fault in the marriage will not be taken into account, and the court will not punish the higher-earning spouse. However, spousal maintenance may be a part of a property award so that each party’s economic position is equal.

Working with one of our Spokane family law attorneys experienced in property division can help your case. Contact us today.

 

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