Washington state has specific guidelines on marital property that impact how courts divide assets during divorces.
If you are considering a divorce in Washington, it is important to understand the difference between marital and separate property. Furthermore, learning about the division of marital property can help you prepare for your divorce as you seek a fair outcome.
Which assets are separate?
As a general rule, if you acquired a piece of property or valuable asset before your marriage began, it is considered to be your separate property, not marital or community property. In some cases, inherited assets and gifts might be separate property, also. On the other hand, most property obtained during the marriage is community/marital property. Real estate, small businesses, retirement accounts, vehicles and investment portfolios can all be deemed community/marital property by a court. Finally, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can override state guidelines on the classification and division of property during divorce. While the court usually awards separate property to the party that holds that property, the court can divide separate property if needed for a just and equitable outcome.
How do courts split marital property?
Courts in Washington emphasize dividing shared property in a just and equitable manner. However, this does not mean that the court will split all assets you share with your spouse halfway. Washington courts instead evaluate a wide range of factors, including the length of your marriage and the individual financial circumstances of both parties to determine what “just and equitable” means in each case.
Divorce can be stressful, particularly if you have concerns about losing your property and savings. Fortunately, Washington state’s guidelines emphasize equitable outcomes in divorce.