In addition to being known for its beautiful hemlocks and rhododendrons, Washington state has another claim to fame. It is one of only nine community property states in the entire nation. If anyone reading this is preparing to divorce, that might raise a few concerns.
Community property law dictates that all marital property must be divided 50/50 in divorce. The 41 states that do not govern themselves by this law instead use an equitable division process, meaning the court determines how to divide marital property fairly, albeit not always equally. Those preparing for marriage in Washington often choose to use prenuptial agreements as means for retaining separate ownership of certain assets expressly so said items are not subject to community property division should divorce occur down the line.
Any income or property acquired by either spouse during marriage (that is not specifically addressed in a prenuptial agreement) belongs to both spouses under community property law. This law also pertains to debts; so, even if you are not the one who borrowed money to purchase a new motorcycle, the court sees you as equally responsible for the unpaid debt if you divorce. It is possible to convince the court that you may have equitable reason for not dividing certain property (or debt) equally.
To reach a settlement outside of court, your soon-to-be former spouse must be willing to cooperate and compromise. It often helps to enlist the aid of an experienced family law attorney to negotiate such matters on your behalf. Hansen Law, PLLC can provide clarity on community property law issues and help you explore all options available to secure a settlement that aligns with your immediate needs and future, post-divorce goals.