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Property division is one of the most important issues in a divorce. It is also one that frequently sparks disagreement. If a divorcing couple is able to agree to an arrangement that is reasonably fair, Washington family court will likely accept whatever the couple determines. However, if they are unable to agree, the court will divide the property as it sees fit.

Washington is a community property state, which means that all property and debt acquired during the marriage is presumed to belong to the community. When determining what is fair, the court considers:

  • Nature and extent of community property
  • Nature and extent of separate property
  • Duration of marriage
  • Economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective

Marital misconduct is not a factor in Washington State divorces.

If a marriage was especially short, the court makes an effort to restore each spouse to his or her status prior to the marriage. In longer marriages, the goal is to make equal the economics of each, but that does not necessarily mean property is divided equally.

What is the Difference between Marital and Separate Property?

All property that is acquired during a marriage is considered marital or community property and is subject to division. Exceptions include inheritance and gifts, in addition to property owned prior to the marriage. A spouse that claims property to be separate must prove it was separate at the beginning and remained so throughout the marriage.

What about the Marital Home?

The marital home is often the most valuable asset in a marriage. The value of the home is based on its market value, minus any money owed on it, including mortgage, taxes, or home equity loans. Most couples seek a real estate appraisal to ensure the home is valued properly. Once a value is determined, couples can choose to do one of three things to satisfy the division of the home’s value:

  • Sell the home and divide the proceeds
  • Refinance the home, allowing one spouse to buy out the other’s share
  • Remain in the home for a certain period of time and then buy out the other spouse or sell the home and split the proceeds.

Working with a Divorce Attorney

In addition to the family home, there will likely be other assets in question during the property division phase of a divorce. In many instances, divorcing couples fight over personal belongings with value and retirement accounts. One of the most important things you can do to protect your rights when dividing marital property is to work with an experienced attorney.

If you are considering divorce or you are in the process of divorcing and you are concerned about property division, we can help. We will aggressively defend your rights in simple or complex property division cases, and draft a qualified domestic relations orders (QDRO) to divide any retirement accounts.

To learn more, contact Feldman & Lee to discuss the details of your case with an experienced divorce lawyer serving the Seattle Area including Snohomish County, Pierce County, and King County.

Contact / Office Location

Lynnwood Office
19303 44th Avenue West
Lynnwood, WA 98036
Phone: (425) 771-3600
Fax: (425) 775-8016

Kent Office
604 West Meeker Street
Suite 206
Kent, WA 98032
Phone: (253) 859-2488
Fax: (253) 859-2295

Marysville Office
519 Beach Avenue
Marysville, WA 98270
Phone: (425) 771-3600
Fax: (425) 368-3610