Related Reading: Dividing the Home in Divorce. Dividing Property in a Washington Divorce The court can’t distribute property fairly without first determining what assets are community property (belonging to both spouses equally), which are separate (belonging only to one spouse), and the fair market value of the property. Property equally acquired is subsequently equally distributed in divorce, in a fair, equitable fashion. This chapter establishes the law of the state respecting the subject to which it relates, and its provisions and all proceedings under it shall be liberally construed with a view to effect its object." You can read the actual language of the relevant … Separate property may include vehicles, houses, real property, or bank or retirement accounts that are currently held as separate property of only one spouse. See Wash. Rev. What Is Separate Property? After the court divides the community property in your Washington divorce, a judge will calculate the amount of spousal maintenance due, if any. [Code 1881 § 2417.] Generally, all property (house, other real estate, car) a spouse gets during the marriage is community property. Also keep in mind that an asset that was originally one spouse’s separate property can become community property through intentional or inadvertent commingling (mixing separate and community property). See Wash. Rev. In a no-fault state, it doesn’t matter if your spouse’s affair, drug problem, or other bad acts caused the marriage to fail. There are some exceptions regarding separate property. Because the type of property ownership system and variances between states can affect how separate property is defined, it is important to speak to an attorney in your state whether you are going through a divorce or want to draft a will. But regardless of what type of state you’re domiciled in, it is important to identify which property is separate, and which property is community. Settlement agreements should resolve all issues and divide all property. Settling Property Distribution Disputes. And, while Washington is a “community property” state, in a divorce all property—both community and separate property—is considered and subject to being divided. The court has discretion to consider other factors unique to the marriage, but ultimately, any order for maintenance must be just in light of your needs and your spouse’s ability to pay. There’s a strong presumption under Washington divorce laws that all assets and debts acquired during a couple’s marriage are community property. There’s a strong presumption under Washington divorce laws that all assets and debts acquired during a couple’s marriage are community property. Your use of this website constitutes acceptance of the Terms of Use, Supplemental Terms, Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Depending on the state you live in, property is divided in two different ways during a divorce: community property or non-community (separate) property. A judge will divide a couple’s community property based on the following factors: Although it might devastate you personally if your marriage ended because your spouse had an affair or otherwise behaved badly, the court will not account for this in dividing community property in Washington. #3243EN. Should the matter be decided by the court, the following factors will be taken into consideration: Non-community property states use a “fair instead of equal” approach to property division in which assets are dealt with equitably instead of equally. The most common types of property divided at divorce are real property like the family home, personal property like your jewelry and clothing, and intangible property like income, dividends, benefits, and credit card debt. By Washington State Family Law Lawyer Anne B. Bennette. Additionally, a Washington judge will look at your age, physical and mental health, financial obligations, the standard of living you enjoyed during the marriage, and how long the marriage lasted. Despite a name on a title, Washington courts presume both spouses contributed to any assets acquired during the marriage, whether true or not. Additionally, separate property and the money you make off of it can’t be reached by your spouse’s creditors. It depends on whether the property is separate or community and where you live -- in an equitable distribution state or a community property state. Separate Property in Washington Inheritance Law The easiest way to imagine the concept of separate property is to think of it as everything that isn’t community property. This means all income and property, real or personal, that was acquired by either party during a marriage is equally owned by each partner. Separate property of spouse. Please reference the Terms of Use and the Supplemental Terms for specific information related to your state. The only time a court will evaluate fault in dividing property is where one spouse spent an exorbitant amount of money in support of this misbehavior – by doing something like draining the savings account to support a cocaine or gambling habit. In Washington State (and not all states are the same), separate property is recognized and taken into account in divorce proceedings. For couples that move from a state that doesn't recognize community property, the property each spouse acquires in that other state is considered separate property in the event of a divorce in Washington. Does it matter if something is separate or community property? In these states, all property of a married person is classified as either community property (owned jointly by both spouses) or the separate property of one spouse. We were married 14 years (1994-2006). All separate and community property and liabilities are before the court for distribution to either party. It must be split equally in a divorce. If you mix (“commingle”) separate and community property, separate property can become community property. Example 1 – No Date of Separation: In a heated argument, one spouse informs the other he/she wants a divorce, packs up a suitcase, and moves to a hotel. If you don’t want to split the community property equally in your Washington divorce, then you and your spouse can decide what’s fair in a written divorce settlement agreement. Property Distribution . Washington has a no fault standard for divorce. There are nine community property states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. The court can consider such wastefulness when dividing the property that’s left. Separate Property In Washington State. Separate property is exactly what it sounds like: the separate assets owned by each spouse before marriage. Do Not Sell My Personal Information, dividing a couple’s property in a divorce, the size of the community property estate, each spouse’s economic reality at the time of the division, either spouse’s contributions to the other spouse’s career and/or education, and. For example, if your grandmother leaves you the lake cabin in her will, then you can sell it or rent it or let it sit completely empty without your spouse’s consent. This is because in Washington State, all community property in a marriage is subject to equitable division in the event of a divorce, whereas separate property of a spouse is not. However, it is also clear that property owned by a spouse prior to marriage is presumed to be separate property. Either spouse or either domestic partner, acting alone, may manage and control community property, with a like power of disposition as the acting spouse or domestic partner has over his or her separate property, except: (1) Neither person shall devise or bequeath by will more than one-half of the community property. Washington Is a “Community Property” State. However, a judge may adjust a community property award if your spouse wasted community assets. All property obtained with earnings during the course of the marriage; and All property obtained with community funds. When people decide to divorce in Federal Way, the next thing they must do is divide their property. The attorney listings on this site are paid attorney advertising. Community assets include income, stocks, royalties, rents, cars, the marital home, bank accounts, 401k accounts, credit card charges, and any other assets or debts accumulated during the couple’s marriage. If you’re planning to file for divorce in Washington, you should expect a judge to divide all marital property equally in your case. Spousal maintenance in Washington is not designed to punish a higher-earning spouse; fault is not considered here, either. Washington is a community property state. Especially for high-asset couples, establishing the boundaries between separate and community property can make a difference when it comes to division. Spouses can reach settlement agreements on their own or with the help of a mediator. property to pay maintenance (alimony) and child support. Copyright ©2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Nolo ® Self-help services may not be permitted in all states. The information provided on this site is not legal advice, does not constitute a lawyer referral service, and no attorney-client or confidential relationship is or will be formed by use of the site. Washington is a community property state, which means the general approach to dividing marital assets is splitting them down the middle. Log in, Parental Relocation & International Moves, Estate Planning: Wills & Probate Glossary, Divorce 101: How to Get the Process Started, How To Handle the Physical Stress of Divorce, Temporary Orders & Motions: What Happens Between Separation & Final Divorce Papers, Everything You Need to Know About Going to Trial in A Divorce, What You Need to Know About Divorce Mediation & Alternative Dispute Resolution, Children & Divorce: Kids Need Time with Dad, What About the Kids: How Courts View Divorce, Child Custody & Parenting Plans, Kids & Divorce: Parenting Plans & Residential Schedules, International Custody & Immigration Issues: An Interview With Shannon Underwood, Divorce & How it Affects Real Estate: An Interview with Heidi Bateman, Money & Finances During Divorce: An Interview with Karen Ramsey, Employment Law & Divorce with Guest Sean Phelan, Case Studies in Family Law, Divorce & Child Custody, Separate property is treated differently than community property. For unmarried individuals, though, all property is considered separate, as there’s no one with whom to have community. The state where either you or your spouse first files for divorce generally controls the proceedings. Code § 26-09-080 (2020.). In Washington State, all property acquired during the marriage is generally deemed community property and must be divided equally at divorce. In most cases, inheritance falls into this category. Code § 26-09-090 (2020). If you can’t agree on how to divide your property or if there are certain assets in dispute, then you can still get the unequal division you prefer, or close to it, by convincing the court that there is a good and equitable reason for dividing your community property unequally. RCW 26.09.030; .040; .070(3) Mandatory Form (05/16, rev.4/25/16) FL Divorce 241 Final Divorce/Legal Separation/ Valid/Invalid Marriage Order p. 4 of 9 The personal property listed in Exhibit is given to Petitioner as his/her separate It is important for people to understand that separate property can become community property. You might be entitled to spousal maintenance (alimony) if your divorce will make it difficult for you to maintain the standard of living you had during marriage. In a marriage dissolution, individuals frequently ask what assets and debts are subject to the Court’s orders in a divorce. The court can use it to pay community debt. Posted May 1, 2019. One spouse’s separate property includes assets or debts that the spouse accumulated before the marriage, acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage, or is property covered by a prenuptial agreement. Washington divorce property laws allow spouses to reach their own agreements as long as the agreement isn’t unfairly one-sided. PDF WAC 458-61A-203 Community property, dissolution of marriage or domestic partnership, legal separation, decree of invalidity. Read this to find out more. Separate property also includes gifts and inheritances even if they are received during the marriage. Washington is a community property state, which means that virtually all assets and debt acquired during the duration of a marriage are considered marital property, and are thus divided equally between the spouses in the event of a divorce. According to the Washington State Legislature, property acquired after the marriage ceremony is considered community property. My husband has 30 years ($350,000.00) in his retirement pension fund. Marriage of White, 105 Wn.App 545 (2001). Contents So, if you and your spouse now live in separate states and each of you files for divorce in your respective states, the state where the divorce was first filed will likely have jurisdiction over the case. To rebut the community property presumption, the burden of proof is on the party claiming separate property to clearly and convincingly trace the property to a separate property source. In dividing property in a divorce, the Washington courts distinguish between separate property and community property. Separate property, as defined by RCW 26.16.010 is, “property and pecuniary rights owned by … However, in a Washington divorce, alimony may be part of a property award to help bridge one spouse’s financial gap. In some states, the information on this website may be considered a lawyer referral service. Washington state is a community property state, meaning that property and debts acquired during the marriage shall be split equally unless the parties reach an agreement independent of a court ruling. If you are undergoing a divorce in Washington State, a knowledgeable property attorney can assist you in classifying your property. It belongs to both spouses, even if only one is on the title. A judge will divide all community property items equally during a divorce. Most states have enacted equitable distribution laws, but Washington is not one of them. By law, in Washington state, must you divide retirement funds & 401K in divorce settlements? If you were to rent grandmother’s (now your) cabin, any rent payment you receive is also yours alone. This means that all property and debt acquired during … Examples of assets generally considered community property under Washington law include: This includes real estate, spouse’s earnings, pension benefits and 401 (k) contributions. 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