At Nunn Vhan & Lang, PLLC, we understand how Washington State may view couples living together in the same manner as though they are legally married. Whether you are either married or cohabitating, the court may divide the assets and property acquired during your relationship equally and in half should you decide to separate. In order to have a better say regarding who owns which properties, it may help to create an ownership agreement between you and your significant other.

All types of property and assets are subject to the community property statutes of the Evergreen State whether married or cohabitating. Because the idea of cohabitating is gaining in popularity, many couples are turning to legally enforceable ownership agreements to protect their individual property. As reported by The Seattle Times, even some asset-shy and “penniless” entrepreneurs and founders of tech companies are requesting prenuptial agreements. A well-crafted ownership agreement allows you and your spouse or domestic partner to verify that a particular asset or property belongs to you personally regardless of its worth or your living arrangement.

A family court judge may, however, overrule the terms of a prenuptial or ownership agreement in certain circumstances. When one partner begins to generate a significant amount of income and then purchases property to share, it may classify as belonging to a couple’s community property. Creating a postnuptial agreement or adding terms to an existing ownership agreement could then help clarify that a new property belongs to either one partner or the other. When both parties agree in advance and document an item’s individual ownership status, it may help make the overall division of property easier if a couple later decides to go their separate ways.

Our page on dividing property and assets provides more information on what you might expect when dissolving a relationship.