Property Division in Washington
During a divorce, all property and debts, whether you own them jointly with your spouse or one of you owns them separately, are subject to division, either by the agreement of the parties or by a court decision. Property includes your home and other real estate that you own, bank accounts, retirement accounts, vehicles, personal belongings, pensions, and interests in businesses. Property division can be a difficult matter to resolve during a divorce, particularly when the high emotions that are often present in a divorce cause one or both spouses to act in an unreasonable manner making it imperative that a Washington divorce lawyer is consulted.
How Property is Divided
Under Washington law, the first step to property division is to categorize each item of property and debt as either community property or separate property. Washington is a community property state, which means that all property accumulated during the course of a marriage is presumed to be community property for division in the parties’ divorce. Likewise, if a spouse obtains property prior to the marriage or receives it as a gift or inheritance, that property is considered to be separate and not eligible for the division in the divorce. Some personal injury settlements also are classified as separate property.
Next, you must determine the financial value of each asset. In some cases, it may be necessary to get an appraisal or have another expert place a value on a particular type of asset. Finally, either the spouses will reach an agreement on how to split up the property and debts, or the court will decide how to divide the property for them following a trial. Washington law requires only that property be divided fairly and equitably in a divorce; there is no requirement that the property distribution be equal in value.
How An Attorney Can Help
Dividing property in a divorce is never easy, especially if you are emotional and are not always thinking clearly. During times like these, it is hard to make the decisions that are truly best for you and your family, particularly when it comes to an important issue like property division. The impact of property division on your financial situation is potentially significant, as the financial and property-related decisions that you make in your divorce today can impact your finances for years to come. It is in these kinds of cases that a divorce lawyer can be most useful to you and truly make a difference in the outcome of your case.