Division of Property. Are You Wondering What Will Happen?
If you are divorcing in Washington State, you may be wondering what will happen to your assets? Will you lose your home? How will you divide your debts?
The first thing you need to know is that Washington is a community property state. This means that any property or income either you or your spouse acquired during the marriage belongs to each of you, equally. It also means that any debts incurred are also shared equally. Therefore, when you divorce, both assets and debts will need to be divided equally between both parties.
What is considered community property?
Community property include’s: income of the parties, homes, cars or boats, home furnishings, jewelry and savings acquired with their income. It also includes retirement accounts, 401 k’s and other financial investments made during the marriage.
What are community debts?
Community debts would include home mortgage’s, credit cards, automobile loans, and second mortgages incurred during the marriage.
The court’s goal is to make a just and equitable division of property and liabilities. RCW 26.09.080 (http://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=26.09.080) outlines the relevant factors that the court takes into consideration before determining these divisions. These include:
- The nature and extent of the community property;
- The nature and extent of the separate property of either party;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The economic circumstances of each spouse or domestic partner at the time the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to a spouse or domestic partner with whom the children reside the majority of the time.
What is separate property?
Separate property is property you acquired prior to marriage. Separate property can also be acquired after marriage (inheritance or gifts).
What if my spouse had an affair? What if I had an affair?
Washington State is a no-fault state. This means it does not matter who ‘caused’ the marriage to end or who filed for divorce. The court does not consider fault when determining how property and debts are divided.
When determining a fair and equitable distribution of the assets and debts in a marriage the court will look at all aspects of the marriage. How long you were married? Do you have young children at home? Have both spouses been employed throughout the marriage or did one spouse stay home? If so, for how long? Does one of you have considerable separate property or assets?
How can an attorney help when determining how the property and debt division’s will occur?
My job as your attorney is to help analyze the property (community and separate), to help determine values of property and businesses (by hiring appraisers) and help to negotiate a fair settlement of the parties assets and debts.