Dividing community property in Washington falls under the umbrella of “equitable and just distribution.” The Evergreen State is a community property state. Simply put, the court has the authority to divide assets between soon-to-be exes, which is considered fair. However, the decisions do not mean that property should be equally 50/50.
State laws dictate marital and non-marital property
State law mandates marital property and debts to be divided equally between divorcing spouses. Unlike other states, Washington does not factor in misconduct.
Spouses’ assets and debts accumulated during the union can include the following:
- Marital residence
- Retirement accounts
- Work benefits
Any property secured before the marriage occurred or following the separation is not considered joint assets. Separate assets that include inheritances received during the union are not factored into community property.
A certain level of flexibility exists in property division. Courts have the authority to provide non-equal distribution when one spouse is in considered financially inferior to the other spouse. Additional consideration is given to the following:
- The nature and extent of the assets
- Length of the marriage
- Financial position of spouses when rulings are issued
Additional factors in dividing assets
Another unique aspect of property division in Washington is the quasi-community property category. Out-of-state residents may have property – commonly inheritances – that does not exist within the borders of Washington and falls under the jurisdiction of “foreign state” laws governed by Washington.
Soon-to-be ex-spouses can take proactive steps and come to an agreement on the division of property for the court to approve. Should they take that path, they should know that orders are set in stone. Neither spouse can modify or cancel unless fraud and other legal grounds exist.
Divorce is legally complex and emotionally charged, especially when it comes to the property that can help to make ends meet post-dissolution. Help from an attorney can be an important factor in securing what you deserve.