Many married couples in Washington encounter relationship problems. Some seek counseling, confide in a friend or family member or tap into other resources to help them restore happiness in their marriages. Others file for divorce. This state operates under community property laws, which is definitely something anyone considering filing for divorce will want to learn more about before heading to court.
Nine states, including Washington, use community property guidelines to divide marital assets in divorce. In most states, equitable distribution principles apply, meaning that marital property is divided fairly — though not necessarily equally. In community property states, however, each spouse is considered an equal owner of all marital and debt, which are typically split 50/50.
There are certain assets that would not be part of community property division, however, even if the couple in question lived throughout their marriage in Washington. For instance, if a spouse was given an inheritance where the benefactor stipulated that it was intended only for that spouse, it would typically be considered as separately owned property in divorce. Each state has its own property division rules; however, there are often exceptions to those rules, which is why it pays to connect with someone ahead of time who is well-versed on such issues.
Some asset situations can be complex, such as when separately owned property is commingled with funds in a jointly owned bank account. That is why it is always a good idea to seek clarification of Washington divorce laws by speaking with an experienced family law attorney. Such an attorney is not only well-versed in state laws but is a skilled negotiator who can help a client strive to achieve a comprehensive and binding settlement.