Walla Walla Property Division Lawyer
Washington is both a no-fault divorce and community property state, so property division is not connected with the reasons or causes of the divorce. The same guidelines under property division law pertain to unmarried couples or domestic partners who are breaking up under certain conditions.
A Walla Walla property division lawyer could answer your questions about dividing assets and work with you to negotiate a favorable outcome. Specifically, your seasoned family lawyer could assess the circumstances of your relationship and shared property and handle any legal details during the stressful process of separation.
Community Property Laws
Community property laws consider any income earned by spouses or debts created during the marriage to belong equally to both parties. During the dissolution of a marriage or relationship, the court would divide property according to a “just and equitable division.” According to Revised Code of Washington §26.09.08, this process can involve various considerations, including:
- The length of the marriage
- The nature and extent of both community and separate property
- Either spouse’s economic circumstances
- Whether one spouse (i.e. the one with custody rights) should receive a family home or the right to live there for “reasonable periods”
Factoring in the Date of Separation
The date two spouses or domestic partners decide to end their marriage or relationship can be a key factor in determining property division. From that date, any money earned, property acquired, or debts incurred becomes separate property. As such, deciding when that date occurred is often a significant issue.
For some couples, the date is clearly set by an event, such as when one person moves out. For others, there are various attempts at reconciliation until the marriage or partnership is irretrievably broken. In the event that one person does not move out but says they want a divorce or break-up, moves to a separate room and makes no attempt to reconcile, that day would be considered the date of separation.
Of course, there are cases where one spouse is blindsided when the other files for divorce. In these situations, the day the divorce is filed is considered the separation date and property division considerations would factor in this date.
What is Considered Separate Property?
Courts generally constitute separate property belonging to an individual spouse as property owned prior to the marriage. This includes inherited property, as long as inherited funds were not co-mingled in joint accounts or added to during the marriage from monies considered community property. Gifts given to either spouse from third parties are also considered separate property.
If a bank account is named under one spouse but was acquired during the marriage, it would not qualify as separate property. The same rule applies to:
- Motor vehicles
- Rental property
- Bank or brokerage accounts
Furthermore, if a spouse has creditors, they would not be able to take their separate property.
Couples can also have agreements during the marriage that designate assets such as inheritance or gifts as separate property. These agreements must meet stringent requirements before they are enforceable, however.
Receiving Reimbursement for Shared Assets
Although Washington is a no-fault state, you could receive reimbursement from your spouse for community property in certain circumstances—for example, if shared funds were spent on illegal activities, such as illicit drugs and prostitution, or legal but non-beneficial activities, such as gambling or an extra-marital affair.
A Walla Walla property division lawyer could go over your individual situation carefully to ensure you receive all community property due to you in a fair division.
How a Walla Walla Property Division Attorney Could Help
If you are going through a divorce or a break-up with a domestic partner, an experienced Walla Walla property division lawyer could help you through this difficult time by managing legal complexities, paperwork, and court proceedings on your behalf. In addition, an attorney could review various facts of your relationship, so you are able to receive a fair share of the property acquired during the marriage. Call today to schedule an initial consultation.