In Washington State, marital property is generally divided equitably; however, this does not mean the property needs to be split down the middle. Equitable division merely means that there is a presumption that the property will be fairly divided. Assets are generally put into two categories:
- Separate property means property owned before the parties were married, any assets acquired during the marriage resulting from a gift or inheritance, assets bought with non-marital funds, or assets received after separation. For example, if someone inherits a home from their family, that will be considered separate property. Additionally, if that property is rented out and the funds are used to buy other assets, those assets will also be considered that person’s separate property.
- Marital property means property acquired during the marriage, regardless of whether the parties live together. For example, if, during the marriage, three homes are bought, then all three homes will be considered marital property and can be subject to division. Marital property is anything acquired from the date the marriage was finalized to the date the divorce was finalized.
Washington Post-Dissolution Asset Division Attorneys
Dividing property during a a divorce in Washington can be challenging. You and your spouse might disagree over how asset division is handled or fight over certain pieces of property. If you are facing a dispute regarding post-dissolution asset division, contact Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson. Attorney Shana Thompson has over 18 years of collective experience helping clients navigate complicated and stressful property division issues. She can protect your rights and achieve a favorable outcome for your case.
Don’t wait another moment and call (206) 712-2756. The attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson assists clients throughout the greater Seattle area and surrounding communities including Burien, Bellevue, Issaquah and Redmond.
Factors To Use When Determining Division Of Property
A court will look at certain factors to determine how the property will be distributed. Those factors include but are not limited to the following:
- Length of marriage
- Spouse’s contribution to the marital estate
- Each spouse’s age and health
- The life status of the spouses
- Each spouse’s necessities, financial needs, and circumstances
- Each spouse’s earning ability
- General principles of equity
Not all the above factors will apply to each case, and financial contributions are not the only contributions considered. For example, If one party stopped working to be a stay-at-home parent while the other contributed to the family financially, the domestic contribution would be considered.
What Are Considered Assets?
Generally, for the purpose of dividing assets, an asset is anything that can be converted into cash, including:
- Financial accounts like checking, savings, social security benefits, and pensions
- Investment accounts
- Real estate
- Other tangible assets like vehicles, jewelry, art, antiques, collectibles, and other items of value
Process For Dividing Assets
Step 1: Identify All Assets And Liabilities
The first step is to allocate assets and liabilities; therefore, creating a comprehensive list of assets and liabilities is vital. An experienced attorney can greatly assist in this process. Sometimes during a nasty divorce, parties seek discovery through subpoenas, depositions, and property inspections.
Step 2: Identify Separate And Marital Property
Second, it is vital to clearly classify which assets and liabilities are considered separate and marital property. To do this, each party will review the assets and determine if it was bought with separate or marital funds. It is important to note that how an asset is titled will not determine the classification of the asset.
Step 3: Value Separate And Marital Property
Next, the parties must understand the current value of the assets and liabilities. The property’s value will generally determine how the property will be distributed. For example, if the home one spouse receives still has a mortgage, its value will be its market value minus the mortgage. The value of a mortgaged home can determine whether a situation where one spouse receives the property while the other spouse receives a non-mortgaged home is equitable. However, at any point, spouses may agree on the distribution of property in a non-equitable manner.
Step 4: Allocate Separate And Marital Property
One of the last steps is to use the above information to determine how assets and liabilities will be distributed. In most cases, the marital property will be divided as equally as possible unless there is a specific reason they should not be divided equally, such as the couple only being married for a short period.
Modifications To Asset Division
Even after the parties are officially divorced, the division of assets can be modified. For example, suppose someone lies about how many assets they acquired during the marriage, such as misrepresenting their salary or stock plan. In that case, it can result in a court modifying the division of assets so that it is more equally divided among the individuals. In some cases, asset division is not always finalized before the divorce, but that does not change what constitutes separate and marital assets.
It is also important to note that even if the debt is divided equally, creditors do not need to conform to the division of liabilities. For example, if one spouse is supposed to pay a certain debt and fails to do so, the other party may still be liable. As a result, this may cause a post-dissolution modification of assets because creditors changed the division of property.
Asset Division │ Washington Legislature – Visit the official website of the Washington legislature to review the statutes concerning the division of property during a divorce.
Divorce Petition │ Washington Courts – Visit the official website for Washington courts to access the standard divorce petition that can be filed in Washington.
Seattle Post-Dissolution Asset Division Attorneys | King County, WA
If you are facing a complex property division dispute in your divorce, the first thing to understand is that the state of Washington utilizes the principle of equitable distribution. However, you must first determine what property is marital and what property is not. For this reason, seeking a knowledgeable family law attorney is recommended. At Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson, attorney Shana Thompson has extensive experience representing individuals with complex property division matters in their divorce such as post-dissolution asset division.
Retain the legal counsel of an experienced lawyer by calling Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson at (206) 712-2756 today. We represent clients throughout King County including the cities of Seattle and Kent and the surrounding cities of Algona, Auburn, Bellevue, Black Diamond, Bothell, Burien, Carnation and more.