Washington is a community property state, which means that community property rules are followed when dividing marital property during divorce. That makes it important for divorcing couples to understand what is considered marital property and what is not considered marital property.
Community property rules generally dictate that all property acquired by the parties during the marriage is jointly owned by the couple.This makes the determination of what is and what is not community property all the more important.
Community property generally includes all earnings of either spouse during the marriage, including interest in investments, capital gains, retirement benefits and other assets. There are some exceptions and certain types of property are not considered community property.
What is not considered community property
What is not considered community property is referred to as separate property and is commonly not subject to the property division process during divorce. Separate property can include gifts to one of the spouses; items purchased prior to the marriage; and inheritances.
Property can also be considered commingled. For instance, one spouse may have owned a home prior to the marriage, which would suggest it should be considered as separate property. However, at least a portion of the value of the home may be considered community property if the couple lived together in the home during the marriage and each contributed to its mortgage payments and general upkeep, and if the value of the home increased during the marriage.
Many complex issues can arise during the property division process. An experienced family law attorney can help people understand their rights and legal options in divorce.