Dividing your property is one of the most complicated aspects of getting divorced or legally separated in Washington. It is also one of the most common points of contention – meaning that couples often disagree about how to split their assets, resulting in a contested divorce case that can be lengthy and expensive. An experienced divorce lawyer at Cohen Family Law, LLC can guide you through the property division process, answer all of your related questions and help you achieve fair property distribution with as little stress as possible. Contact us today to begin with a free consultation.
Washington is one of only a few states that employs a community property law during divorce cases. This law views all property, assets, and debts acquired during a marriage as belonging to the marital community. This means that they are owned in equal parts by both spouses, regardless of which person brought the asset into the marriage.
If a divorce case goes to trial in Washington, a judge will divide all community property down the middle in an even split. Marital assets and debts will be shared 50/50 under Washington law, regardless of whether or not this is fair for either party. In an equitable division state, on the other hand, the courts divide property based on what is fair for either party after a careful analysis of the circumstances.
Washington’s community property law applies to marital property only – not separate property. This distinction is important during your divorce case to identify which assets are protected from your ex-spouse. In general, anything that you owned or acquired before the date of your marriage is separate property. In addition, any gifts or inheritance you alone were given during your marriage is separate property. Any debt that you had before your marriage will also remain your separate debt.
If you and your spouse commingled any separate assets when you married, this could turn it into marital property. For example, if you put your spouse’s name on the title of a house or car that you bought before the marriage, this could make that asset part of the community. Another example is creating a joint account by combining your separate bank accounts. If you wish to protect your separate property from division in a divorce case in Washington, avoid commingling assets during your marriage.
Even with Washington’s strict community property law, there are strategies that you can use to protect the money, property, and assets that you worked hard to acquire during your marriage from going to your ex-spouse. For example, you and your spouse can create a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement to protect your property should your marriage ever end in divorce. If it’s too late for these types of agreements, you can hire a lawyer to represent you during divorce mediation.
Representation from an experienced attorney will increase the odds of compromising with your spouse and reaching a property division settlement that works for both of you. Achieving a settlement will prevent your case from going to court and being decided by the state’s community property law. Your lawyer will also understand the tax implications of your property division and other issues that may affect your case.
The property division lawyers at Cohen Family Law, LLC can help you divide monetary assets, personal property, real estate, businesses, intangible property, retirement plans, and much more during your divorce case in Vancouver, Washington. We understand that this part of a divorce can be overwhelming. Our attorneys are here to fight on your behalf and achieve your property division goals. Speak to a lawyer today at (360) 953-5000. We also respond promptly to online queries.