During a divorce, one of the most common reasons for disputes and complications is over the way the couple will divide their property. Both parties have an interest in preserving their own financial well-being, and each will want to ensure that he or she is getting a fair share of community property. One important step for a Washington spouse facing a divorce is to understand what types of property count as marital property and which do not.
Keep in mind that all assets, both separate and community property, are subject to division in a divorce. The court in Washington State does have the power to also divide separate property, but normally does not do so. This means that each spouse usually is awarded an equitable share of net assets acquired during the marriage. If you understand the differences between these two different types of property, you will be in a better position to effectively fight for your post-divorce interests.
Separate property versus community property
Separate property is property that you acquired before marriage, or gifts or inheritances that you received during your marriage that have not been comingled with community assets. Separate property may also include assets that you purchased with separate funds during your marriage, as well as any type of property you and your spouse defined as separate in a prenuptial agreement.
Community property is subject to division, but there may be times when two spouses agree in a property settlement agreement for one of them to keep a specific asset. In the event of a property dispute, determining legal ownership for a specific asset can be complicated. If you decide it is in your interest to pursue a specific outcome in court, you will benefit from considering the ramifications of keeping certain assets, such as the family home, or a retirement.
What’s best for your future?
When fighting for your property rights while navigating a divorce, it is easy to become overwhelmed and feel unsure of what the best outcome could be. You might find it helpful to have experienced guidance as you navigate these matters and pursue an outcome that will provide you with stability and security for years to come. The first step in this process will be to clearly establish which property qualifies as community property and which is separate. Legal advice on this critical issue is extremely valuable.