Dividing property during a Washington divorce can come with heavy emotions and anxiety. For some people, it is difficult to part with assets and property accumulated during years of marriage.
In any case, it is important to know how the courts divide property during the divorce so you know what to expect.
What is community property?
Washington is one of several states that divide property according to the community property model, according to the Washington State Legislature. This means that all property acquired during the marriage is distributed equally in half between you and your spouse. The judge may consider certain factors before making the final decision, depending on the circumstances of the case.
In addition to the family vehicles, home and bank account contents, marital property also includes the following:
- Intellectual property, such as patents, copyrights and trademarks
- Term life insurance policies, 401k plans, stocks and retirement accounts
- Income tax returns and lottery ticket winnings
- Frequent flier awards points and other loyalty points
- Gifts you and your spouse exchanged with one another during the marriage.
Any money or property loaned to a third-party is also subject to division once it is repaid.
What happens to separate property?
Not all property is considered community, as separate property may stay in the possession of the original owner. If you owned property prior to becoming married, you may keep that property in its entirety, without having to share half. This is also true for inheritance money or gifts you received by a third-party before, during or after the marriage.
It is critical, however, that these items remain solely in your name. Mixing them with community property may relabel them as marital, making them eligible for division in the final settlement.