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Can your spouse really take everything in a divorce?

On Behalf of | May 19, 2020 | Divorce |

You never expected your spouse to turn so vicious during your divorce. They’re threatening to take everything and leave you destitute.

Embittered spouses make all kinds of threats, but actually following through on those threats isn’t as easy as it sounds. Here’s why:

  • Washington is a community property state. That means that all of a couple’s property is divided up roughly equally in a divorce.
  • Any separate property you own is protected from division. Separate property can include things like property you owned prior to the marriage, gifts from your spouse, trusts and inheritances.
  • Prenuptial agreements aren’t infallible. If your spouse is relying on a prenup to make their threats stick, they may still be misguided. A prenup that is heavily slanted in favor of one spouse over the other can be invalidated by the court. Prenups can also fail for several other reasons.

In general, the courts try to make the division of assets as fair as possible so that neither spouse walks away in vastly worse (or superior) shape to the other. There have been many wealthy and powerful people who found out that they couldn’t just claim everything in the marital pot for themselves.

Just be wary: Spouses who make these kinds of threats may not be above trying to hide their assets, rather than divide them. You can protect yourself by gathering up as many financial records you can find and making sure that you have copies of everything to show to your forensic accountant, should one become necessary.

If your high-net-worth divorce seems like it will be acrimonious, talk to your attorney early about your legal options.