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Know how to ensure a fair property division in a divorce

On Behalf of | Aug 14, 2023 | Asset Division

Divorce can be difficult for Washington couples. There are many issues that need to be navigated and with lingering animosity from the breakdown of the relationship, it can be complicated to try and forge workable solutions. While this is often viewed in the context of child custody, child support and spousal maintenance, property division can be challenging by itself. From the start, it is essential to understand how this is addressed.

What are key points about property division?

Washington bases property division on the community property template. This differs from states that rely on equitable distribution when dividing property. Based on community property, items that were accrued after the couple was married are presumed to belong to both. Equitable distribution, which is used in most other states, means the court will strive to divide the property in a way it believes is fair. That is not always equal.

If the parties purchased a home after they were married, then this will likely be divided equally regardless of which person was the primary breadwinner. The same is true for automobiles, household items and collectibles. In cases where the sides are on good terms, they might be able to negotiate. When there is acrimony, it can be harder to do that.

Separate property is that which was owned prior to the marriage. Property can also be considered separate if it was acquired after the marriage as an inheritance or was given to one spouse as a gift. If a person purchased or traded for an item with their own separate money or property, they it can be considered separate property. This can become muddled in certain circumstances, leading to discord.

The court will need to know which properties were community property and which were separate property. With community property, the primary objective is to split them in a “just and equitable” manner. There are myriad factors that will be considered such as the duration of the marriage, the value of the property, the working history of both spouses and more. Children could be part of the process as a custodial parent often wants to remain in the family home to raise the child.

To achieve a fair outcome with property, it is important to know the law

Although any divorce can be complicated, it does not necessarily need to be something to worry about non-stop until it is settled. Having help from those who look at the issues positively and try to achieve a fair result is integral from the beginning. This is true whether it is a high-asset divorce or one of lesser means.

Trying to solve problems as quickly as possible could involve flexibility. Showing pragmatism may be more effective than battling over every item. With property division of real estate, retirement accounts, bank accounts, automobiles, collectibles and anything else, there are many strategies to employ. Being cognizant of the law and what can be done to reach a positive result is critical from the beginning.