Asset Divisions

The process of dividing assets can include a lot of complicated paperwork and stress. Couples must split their property by a settlement or a judge’s order. Washington is a community property state, which means all shared assets must be distributed in a fair and equitable manner. 

If you or your spouse is seeking to divorce, your assets may be in danger. Washington courts may give your former spouse an unequal portion of assets depending on the circumstances. It’s important that you gain quality legal representation now to protect your interests. 

Attorney for Property Division in Seattle, Washington

Have you filed for divorce against your spouse? Are you worried about assets and what may happen to them? If so, it’s important that you contact an experienced divorce attorney. A divorce attorney can protect your property with a temporary order, negotiate settlement terms for you, and investigate any hidden assets held by your spouse. 

The attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson have years of experience in divorce and family law. We have helped numerous clients protect and keep their assets during divorce proceedings. Don’t wait another moment wondering what may happen next. Call us now at (206) 712-2756 to schedule a free consultation.

Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson accepts clients throughout the greater King County area including Bellevue, Kent, Kirkland, Issaquah and Seattle. We also represent clients in surrounding counties such as Everett in Snohomish County.

Overview of Dividing Assets in Washington   


Possible Assets in a Divorce

When you think of dividing assets you probably think of expensive items such as cars or houses. It may surprise you that real estate or expensive items aren’t the only type of shared asset. Some shared assets in a divorce can include retirement accounts, investments and other financial interests. And not only are assets divided, but also debts.

Listed below are some assets that can be divided in a divorce.

  • Investment accounts;
  • Stocks and bonds;
  • Mutual funds;
  • Accounts in shared children’s names;
  • Family home;
  • Real property of a business;
  • Business rights;
  • Student loans, mortgages or other types of debt;
  • Deferred compensation;
  • Retirement accounts;
  • Tax refunds;
  • Carryover tax losses;
  • Credit card points such as airline miles;
  • Patents, Trademarks or Copyrights;
  • Timeshares;
  • Insurance policies;
  • Antiques, artwork or expensive collections;
  • Household furnishings and goods;
  • Expensive items such as cars and boats.

Types of Property in a Divorce in Seattle, Washington

Property division in Washington depends on the type of property provided involved. Washington classifies property in two ways, separate and community property. Depending on the circumstances of the marriage, Washington courts can divide both community and separate property between the parties.

Community property is any property obtained during the marriage. The only shared property that is barred from division are assets protected in pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreements.  Listed below are some examples of community property.

  • Shared bank accounts;
  • Pensions;
  • Mortgage;
  • Investments;
  • Joint-owned businesses;
  • Family vehicle; and
  • Family house. 

Separate property is anything before the marriage or obtained by gift and inheritance durignt he marriage. It can include: 

  • Gifts given to one spouse;
  • Full or a portion of a personal injury settlement; or
  • Assets outlined in a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement.

How is Property Divided in a Divorce?

Once the courts identify all community property, they can divide it. The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) § 26.09.080 states the courts must divide property in a just and equitable manner. This can mean trouble for spouses with large income gaps. The court may grant an uneven asset distribution depending on the circumstances.

The following are some factors the courts will consider when dividing property in a divorce.

  • The extent and nature of your community property;
  • The extent and nature of your separate property;
  • The length of the marriage or domestic partnership;
  • The economic status of both parties; and
  • If a spouse or domestic partner desires the right to live in the family home and is spending the majority of the time with shared children.

Although it is not common, it is also possible for a court to distribute one spouse’s separate property to the other spouse, if the equities require it.

It’s important to know that fault doesn’t have a role in dividing assets. Bad behavior such as infidelity won’t be considered as a basis for changing the distribution of assets or debts. Only if the behavior is intentional and results in waste or destruction of property can it be considered a factor. 


How Do I Protect My Assets During a Divorce?

You may be concerned about your assets during divorce proceedings. In some cases, a spouse may spend money frivolously or cancel insurance premiums. Thankfully there’s a way to stop your spouse from acting recklessly with your assets. If you’re worried about your spouse’s habits during the divorce, you may be able to get a temporary order.

A temporary order is a court order that establishes one or more “ground rules” during a divorce. These rules serve to protect your assets and negotiate major issues around the divorce. If you’re worried, you can file a temporary order asking for a “restraint” on the disposal of any shared property without court approval. 

The temporary order would stop your spouse from acting recklessly with your assets. It’s important to understand that the temporary order would be mutual. You would also be unable to spend carelessly or cancel any insurance premiums without court approval.


Hiding Assets in a Divorce in King County, WA

Both you and your spouse are required to disclose all assets to the courts. In some cases, one spouse may conceal valuable assets for their benefit. It’s important that you have quality legal representation in case this happens. With their extensive resources and experience a skilled divorce attorney can investigate any hidden assets.

Listed below are some ways a person may attempt to hide their assets.

  • Under-reporting income with the IRS;
  • Hiding bank accounts or investments;
  • Colluding to delay raises, stock options or bonuses until the divorce is over;
  • Paying for expensive purchases for a boyfriend or girlfriend;
  • Intentionally overpaying taxes so they roll over;
  • Colluding with another person to pay a fake debt and then collect the money after the divorce;
  • Hiding information about insurance policies;
  • Concealing expensive items such as artwork, antiques or large collections.

Additional Resources

Washington Divorce Statute – Visit the official website for Washington State Legislature to find more information about the divorce statutes. Access the site to learn more about how property is divided, parenting plans, temporary orders and more.

Divorce Roadmap – Visit the official website for King County, Washington to find a “roadmap” about divorce. Access the site to learn more about how assets are distributed, the divorce process, agreement settlements and more. 


Lawyer for Asset Division in King County, Washington

If you or your spouse is trying to pursue a divorce, it’s vital that you seek trusted legal representation. The court may grant you an uneven distribution of your assets. Additionally, your spouse could be hiding assets from you. Don’t go into these proceedings blind. Call the attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson today.

The attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson are experienced at representing those struggling with divorce. We understand that jugging legal issues during this emotional time is tough. Our attorneys want to ease that stress with quality legal service. Call today at (206) 712-2756 to schedule a free consultation.

The attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson represent clients throughout the greater Seattle area including Redmond, Burien, Bellevue and Issaquah. 


This article was last updated on December 18, 2018.

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