Is Washington a 50/50 State for Divorce? The Fate of Your Marital Property Post Divorce
Yes, Washington is a 50/50 divorce state, but very few people know precisely what this means.
Do you get to keep that Chevy you bought a year before your marriage? What about Grandpa’s inheritance, and does 50/50 means everything is split in half?
Divorce can be a trying time for even the strongest of us. The last thing you want to do is spend time demystifying complex marriage laws and legal jargon.
What you need is answers, not more questions. This piece will paint a clear picture of what to expect during your divorce proceedings, who gets what, and much more.
So What is a 50/50 State?
Some US jurisdictions, also known as community property states, divide marital property 50/50 along the middle.
In such states, most of the property, debt, and assets acquired during a marriage, apart from a few exceptions, are subject to division at the end of the marriage.
All this happens regardless of who acquired the property in the first place.
Classes of Property in a Washington Divorce
If you and your spouse fail to come to an amicable agreement on property division, the courts will have to step in.
The first job of a Washington court will be to classify all your assets and liabilities, most of which will fall into these two classes:
1. Community Property
Community property refers to all the property, wealth, and assets acquired by a couple during the length of their marriage. This is with the exception of gifts or inheritances that were acquired during the marriage.
Some examples of community property include:
- Self-employment income
- Housing and real estate
- Retirement funds and 401(k)
2. Separate Property
Separate property refers to all the property, wealth, and assets acquired by a spouse before the marriage or after the separation.
Examples of separate properties include:
- Personal injury compensation
- Any pet owned by a spouse before the marriage
- Assets acquired in one’s name that weren’t used to benefit the other spouse
That established it’s crucial to note that it’s not all black and white. For instance, some separate property may become community property once a spouse makes a contribution towards that project.
The fate of your property that lies in this grey area will depend on your legal representation. That’s why it’s essential that you get the highest caliber lawyers arguing your case.
Factors that Affect 50/50 Division in Washington
We’ve already established that Washington is a 50/50 state. However, this doesn’t mean that these assets or liabilities have to be split in half. In such circumstances, the court will consider the following:
1. The Length of Your Marriage
For couples that have been married for shorter periods, the court is likely to rule for an equal 50/50 distribution. However, for longer marriages, equitable distribution may mean a 70/30 split or a 60/40 split.
2. Financial Situation of the Spouses
A judge in Washington will consider the financial situation of both couples pre and post-divorce before dividing the assets.
The judge may look at the debts of each spouse and their separate assets as the basis of an equitable distribution.
3. Spousal Contributions to Careers
The court will most likely consider how much contribution one spouse made to the progress or success of another.
If you played a pivotal role in the success of your spouse, a judge could consider that when dividing assets at the end of that marriage.
4. Size of the Marital Estate
The larger the size of the marital property, the more complicated the division process during the divorce will be. Some asset classes such as intellectual property, real estate and land are also harder to evaluate and may create exceptions to most of these rules.
FAQs about Divorce in Washington
Here is a list of frequently asked questions that you may have about divorce and its subsequent property division in Washington state.
Who gets to keep the house?
Despite the fact that a house acquired after the marriage is considered community property, a judge is unlikely to have the house sold. In most instances, the house will go to the custodial parent in an attempt to keep the kids in their childhood home.
Who gets the dog?
The dog will most likely go to the spouse who owned it before the marriage or the spouse who wants it after the divorce.
Who gets the 401 (K)?
Property division, as far as retirement assets are concerned, is a complicated affair. However, in most cases, spouses will keep their premarital funds, then the funds post-marriage will be divided equitably.
Who gets the car?
Cars bought during the marriage are considered community property. However, with inequitable distribution, each spouse is most likely to get out of the marriage with the car they own and drive.
Lean on Experience
Property division in Washington is a highly nuanced affair marred with exceptions, grey areas, and complexities.
That’s why you need a high-caliber lawyer with years of experience and a reputation for handling property disputes on your side of the ring.
For this and more, look no further than Petrelli Previtera. Our lawyers will assemble a team of financial experts, advisors, and legal minds to put in a spirited fight for your future, children, and loved ones.
For more information, contact us today, and our teams will be more than willing to help.