Division of Property in Washington Divorce
One of the primary objectives of
divorce is dividing property. Property includes not only assets, but also liabilities.
When a couple chooses to divorce in Washington, the court is tasked with
dividing all property equitably.
The experienced divorce lawyers at McKinley Irvin are here to help guide
you through this process to secure a fair division of property.
How Does the Court Divide Property?
Washington is a community property state. Some community property states
require that community property be divided equally upon divorce. In Washington
divorce cases, the court is required to divide all property equitably,
whether the property is characterized as community or separate.
Under Washington law, assets and debts accrued during the marriage are
typically considered as belonging to the marital community, while assets
and debts acquired pre-marriage or post-
separation are considered separate property and usually remain with the respective
spouse. However, a court may sometimes choose to award one spouse's
separate property to the other spouse in order to achieve a fair and equitable
distribution of property.
We understand that dividing assets and debts can be a difficult issue in
divorce. Frequently, our approach is to negotiate a property settlement
and reach a fair agreement outside of court. However, in the event an
agreement cannot be reached, we are always prepared to litigate to protect
our client's best interests.
We are also experienced in cases with complex property divisions, which
often include valuable assets, high-net worth community estates, business
interests, or international investments.
What Factors can Determine How my Property is Divided?
There are a variety of factors that can influence how your property is
divided in divorce. Some of those factors include:
- How long you were married.
- The ages of both spouses.
- Current income and income potential.
- Education level.
- The existence of non-marital resources (ex: a trust).
- Financial needs.
- Medical conditions that create a financial need.
- Prenuptial agreement.
- Whether the couple lived together before marriage.
Types of Assets Divided in a Divorce
Assets divided upon divorce differ drastically from case to case. However,
certain assets characterize most property division cases. Including:
Money - Financial assets that can include funds in your checking, savings and
investment accounts, for example.
Home - The family home is considered real property and an asset that is commonly
divided upon divorce. Vacant land or other owned buildings are also real
property that may be divided upon divorce.
Retirement - This includes funds such as 401(k) accounts and pensions.
Business - Any businesses owned, as well as business-owned property and the business's
Taxes - This includes tax refunds and any other tax credits.
Investments - such as brokerage accounts and interests in closely held business.
Other common assets divided in divorce include deferred compensation, credit
cards, patents/copyrights, art and related valuables, insurance policies,
and household furnishings. Property division questions may be more complex
when dissolving longer marriages.
Valuation of Assets
Understanding the true value and scope of your property in divorce is paramount
to achieving a fair division of assets between you and your spouse. The
value of certain assets may be fairly simple to determine, while other
assets require value appraisals or input from certified accountants. At
McKinley Irvin, our divorce lawyers take the necessary steps to prove
the value of your property in order to properly prepare for negotiations,
or for presentation to the court.
Selecting a Washington Divorce Attorney
Consulting with a divorce lawyer who has extensive experience in complex
property division cases is essential to ensuring that your divorce results
in an equitable distribution of assets. We invite you to contact McKinley
Irvin. Our client service representatives will assist you in identifying
the lawyer best suited to meet your family law needs, and will help you
schedule a consultation appointment. We represent clients throughout the
state of Washington, including Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma, Puyallup, and