01 Apr What You Need to Know About Property Division in Washington
The circumstances surrounding a divorce can already be devastating to you, but the dramatic changes that it can bring to your life do not stop there. As you separate from your spouse, courts will also split property between you. We will inform you on what you need to know about property division in Washington in this post.
Community Property and Separate Property
Washington is one of nine community property states in the US. This means that courts will allow each person to keep separate property and will aim to divide community property in a fair and equitable split. Just what are separate property and community property, though?
- Separate Property: Assets that a person acquired before the marriage, received as gifts or through inheritance, or that are listed in a prenuptial agreement constitute separate property. Debts that a person had prior to marriage also stay with them in a divorce.
- Community Property: The assets and debts that two people gain over the course of their marriage make up community property. This includes income, money in bank and 401k accounts, physical possessions such as cars and houses, and credit card payments, to name just a few.
Splitting Property Equitably
Washington law requires that property division be “just and equitable.” Rather than making a former couple sell single assets in order to split the money between them, a court will usually allocate property so that the total value is equal on both sides. So, one person may receive the home, while the other receives cash or a greater proportion of other assets that add up to the same value as that home. The court will also consider the debts that each spouse can afford and will give certain assets to the person who desires them, makes more use of them, or whose name they are under. Debts that correspond to an asset also follow that asset.
Uneven Property Division
The community property system does not necessarily lead to a completely even result in every situation, though. Sometimes, a court may give the separate property of one person to the other when it determines that doing so would be equitable. It can also give more community property to one spouse than the other. Examples of factors that a judge may consider when deciding on how to split property include the duration of the marriage, both individuals’ financial states, and the size of separate property and debts. It can also consider aid that one spouse gave to the other in order to help them gain education or further their professional life. Of course, child custody comes into play as well. Conditions within any of these elements can cause a court to rule for one spouse to possess more property than the other.
After reading through what you need to know about property division in Washington, you probably understand that you will need professional help while going through this process. For a property division lawyer in Washington state who will represent your interests in this difficult time, call LaCoste Law today.