Couples in Washington State acquire things during their marriage. If they divorce, a major part of the process is dividing the things they have acquired.

When family courts divide property, they follow some guidelines. Washington is a community property state. If you are in the midst of a divorce and trying to navigate property division, seek legal consultation to protect your rights and understand how the process works.  

Property Division in Washington State

Before marriage, the work you did, the income you earned, and the things you bought belong to your estate. But when you get married, whatever you acquire becomes marital property. Often, it does not matter how assets are titled, but how they were acquired. Assets acquired during your marriage are always community property. 

Generally, community property is divided equally upon divorce. But if a family judge thinks a different result is necessary to achieve a fair result, they will do so. The judge will then base the distribution of property with a mind to leave the spouses in the same financial position as they go forward, particularly if were married for a long time. A divorce attorney will help you get the best divorce settlement possible. 

Community Property versus Separate Property

Property division in Washington State depends on when and how a piece of property was acquired. For instance, assets acquired by a spouse before their marriage are considered as separate property.

Also, separate property includes inheritance received by a spouse. If you bought a house before you got married, this house might also be a separate property. But sometimes, it can become partly community and partly separate property. 

Your attorney will make an inventory of all your property. What you can do is list all assets, property, and other belongings that have a value of at least $1, 000.  A lot of assets and income are overlooked as community property. This results in unpleasant surprises for a spouse.

These include contract rights like retirement plans, life insurance policies, and severance pay. Other examples include some kinds of income like stock options.

A skilled lawyer will correctly categorize property to ensure a fair settlement. They can give you valuable guidance as you negotiate your property settlement.

If agreements cannot be achieved, your attorney can defend you against unjust claims. Also, your attorney will develop a persuasive argument that can guide the family judge in reaching a just decision. The best attorney will guide you through the property division process with minimal stress.