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.

Our Approach

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 accounts receivable.
  • 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 Vancouver.

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