In the State of Washington, the property division in a divorce is fairly equal, as the state is a community property state. Whatever income and property either spouse has acquired during the marriage, as well as any debts, will be split equally at the time of divorce. When assets are in dispute or if one spouse agrees to give the other partner a share of what is legally theirs, your lawyer may need to convince the court that equity is served by making a different split than what is designated by law. Other times, the court will decide for itself that a more equitable distribution is called.
What is Community Property?
Marital property that is considered community property usually includes the family home, intangible property such as income, credit card debt, benefits, and dividends, and personal property such as jewelry and clothing.
In splitting the property, the court may deviate from the community property principal depending on the facts of the case. In the case of a long marriage, where one spouse sacrificed their income potential in order to raise children or support the efforts of the other spouse, the court can give a bigger share of property, as well as spousal support, to the other person. This can be true if one spouse has health issues and a poor ability to make a living on their own. If you have children together with your spouse and they live with you most of the time in the family home, you are more likely to be awarded a larger share of the family home or be allowed to stay in it.
Along with being a community property state, Washington is also a no-fault state. Even if one spouse’s infidelity, drug habit, or other failure contributes to the collapse of the marriage, the other spouse receives no financial benefits from his (or her) bad acts. However, if the husband diverted large amounts of income and property to his mistress, gambling,g or buying drugs, the court might consider giving the other party a bigger share of community property.
How Does Separate Property Figure Into the Property Division
Where things also get tricky is in deciding what property is separate. Property that one spouse owned prior to the marriage is considered separate along with gifts and inheritances that one spouse received during the marriage. If the person derived income as a result of an inherited rental property, a prize horse sent out to stud, or from selling a valuable painting, those funds are considered the property of the one spouse. Ownership might become tricky if the other spouse was involved in maintaining the property or managing the horses, and the court might decide to include what was technically individual property in community property.
In a community property state, property division can still be complex, which is why it’s best to enlist the family law services of the Weintraub Law Group; contact us today for a free consultation.