During a divorce, there are various things you must do to sever the relationship between you and your spouse. One of the more complex parts of the process is dividing your property.
When you do this, you need to begin by determining what is separate property and what is marital property. The Washington State Legislature explains separate property is that which you own by yourself, while marital property includes items you jointly own.
The definition of ownership when it comes to property division in a divorce may differ slightly from what you would normally think of ownership. In a divorce, it means something you and your spouse both own because you bought it together or bought it using funds from your marriage.
Funds from your marriage would include any money either of you earns during the marriage. So, anything you buy with the money you earn after you marry becomes jointly owned property.
Separate property definition
Separate property includes items you had prior to marriage. It also includes anything you inherit or receive as a gift.
You have complete control and ownership over separate property. The law explains you have the right to do with such property whatever you wish. You also have all rights to any rent you make from separate property or other earnings that come from that property.
It is possible for something that is separate property to become marital property in part or full, but that is a very complex situation that goes beyond the scope of a simple definition of separate property.
It is essential to define separate and marital property as the court will only divide marital property between you and your spouse in a divorce.