Washington is one of nine community property states. However, many people have misconceptions about what constitutes community property and how it factors into division of the marital estate. This leads to disputes or unsupported claims that intensify the divorce process.
The divorce lawyers of O'Brian & Associates practice exclusively in family law, serving Redmond, Bellevue, the Eastside and the Greater Seattle area. We have extensive experience in high net worth divorces and other cases in which community property plays a pivotal role. We will help you make informed choices and vigorously represent you in negotiations or divorce litigation. Give us a call today to schedule a consultation about your specific case.
Understanding Community Property
The baseline presumption is that wealth acquired during marriage — through the efforts of either spouse — becomes community property. This includes retirement contributions or assets purchased in one spouse's name, including marriages in which only one spouse works outside the home.
Disputes often center on separate property such as a house owned before marriage, a spouse's inheritance or injury settlement, or a spouse's business. Separately owned assets can become commingled with community property during marriage, losing their separate property status.
This is a very complex issue requiring sophisticated legal analysis and often the assistance of outside experts. Our lawyers are very familiar with complex asset division matters, including tracing of assets as separate, commingled or quasi-community property.
Dividing Your Washington Marital Estate
The joint assets are not split 50-50 as in some community property states. Washington law calls for a "just and equitable" distribution. All of the couple's property is before the court, and if the spouses cannot reach a negotiated settlement for division of property, the court determines what assets are subject to division and in what proportion.
The court must consider specific statutory criteria, including:
- The nature and extent of community property
- The nature and extent of separate property
- How long the marriage lasted
- The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time of divorce
- Awarding of the family home to the parent with primary custody
Discuss Your Concerns With Experienced Divorce Lawyers
If you worry that your property will be mischaracterized or that you will not get your entitled share of the marital assets, call (425) 276-7677 or email us to arrange a confidential consultation with an experienced attorney.
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