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How community property laws can affect a divorce

Washington is not an equitable distribution state when it comes to the division of marital assets in a divorce. In such states, assets are not always divided equally (as in, 50/50) in divorce, but the intent is that they be divided fairly. This state, however, is a community property state, which means income earned and property purchased with that income during marriage are considered jointly owned by both spouses. Any debt incurred by either spouse during the marriage is typically considered as being owed by both spouses as well.

There are divorce situations where the parties do not wish their assets to be divided equally. Thus, they use separation agreements to create a property division plan. Typically, asset valuation must take place before a comprehensive plan can be negotiated. The agreement is then submitted to the court for final approval.

Several types of circumstances may prompt someone to request that certain property remain separately owned in divorce. For instance, problems may arise if it is claimed that an inheritance (considered separate property under the law) was commingled with community property or that a gift was actually given to both parties rather than one individual. Various factors are taken into consideration when the court determines how property should be divided, including but not limited to length of marriage and economic standing of individual spouses at the time of the divorce.

Divorce is often stressful enough without adding community property issues to the mix. Hansen Law, PLLC understands the potential financial impact of your divorce and is prepared to help you obtain as fair and favorable a settlement as possible. If there is a particular issue you'd like to discuss, or you are seeking reinforcements to protect your rights and best interests, contact our Washington office to request a consultation.

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