If you are going through a divorce in Washington State, dividing your marital property is likely one of your top concerns. It can be confusing and challenging, especially with several common misconceptions clouding the process.
Gaining clarity on the most common myths about property division during a divorce in Washington can positively impact the final outcome of your divorce.
Misconception: Property division is always a 50-50 split
Washington is a community property state, so all property and debts acquired during the marriage belong equally to both spouses. However, this does not mean that the court will always divide everything equally. Instead, the court aims for a fair or equitable distribution, which may not always be a 50-50 split. Factors such as the duration of the marriage, each spouse’s financial situation and the nature of the property can influence the division.
Misconception: The court only divides property acquired during the marriage
While the court generally considers property acquired during the marriage as community property, it does not mean that separate property, such as assets owned before marriage or received as a gift or inheritance, is immune from division. In some cases, if the court finds it just and equitable, it may consider separate property as part of the division.
Misconception: The spouse whose name is on the title gets the property
You may think that if your name is on the title of an asset, it belongs to you. However, in a Washington divorce, the court considers all property acquired during the marriage as community property, regardless of whose name is on the title.
Misconception: The higher-earning spouse gets more property
Another common misconception is that the spouse who earns more money will receive a larger part of the marital property. However, the court divides property based on fairness, not income levels. The earning potential and financial situation of each spouse are factors the court considers, but they do not automatically entitle one spouse to more property.
Understanding the reality of property division in a Washington divorce can help ease some concerns and set realistic expectations for the process. Always refer to Washington’s divorce laws for accurate information.