If you are facing divorce, you are probably worried about the process of property division. Washington is a community property state, so how fair will it be?
The best approach to property division is to prepare thoroughly, so start jotting down some notes. This is a good time to put your list-making skills to use.
Make two columns
Think about all the assets you own and make two columns: marital property and separate property. Anything acquired during your marriage will be in the marital property column. Anything acquired prior to or outside of your marriage will go in the separate property column. Examples of the latter might be your diamond engagement ring or the classic car your spouse has owned since college.
Manage your joint accounts
If you feel that your spouse might create problems about finances during the divorce, consider separating any of your joint accounts ahead of time. You may want to seek professional help with this process. The basic items to separate would be your joint credit card, checking and investment accounts. If you and your spouse decide to keep any joint accounts, your attorney can draw up an agreement concerning the purpose of the accounts and any activity that is likely to occur until such time as the accounts can be separated. To avoid misuse, you should freeze the investment accounts until property division concludes and the divorce is final.
Approach valuation rationally
Each asset must have a value assigned to it, whether it is your home, the family business or your collection of Norman Rockwell prints. The best approach here is to think of your divorce as if you were dissolving a partnership. Try not to let your emotions overtake your common sense.
Share the information
Going into property division, both you and your spouse should have identical sets of property-related documents. Give a set to your attorney and keep a copy for yourself. The more assets you have, the more complex property division is likely to be, but being well prepared will go a long way toward weathering the process without the stress you anticipate.