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Division of Property and Debt

How is Property and Debt Divided in a Divorce Case?

Saw Splitting a HouseOur Tacoma property division lawyers hear many people state that property and debt should be divided 50/50 between both spouses. While logical in many cases, this is not always the situation. To explore what may be right in your case, it is advisable to contact a seasoned asset and property division attorney in Tacoma. Feel free to contact us if you are a resident of Pierce County, King County, or Thurston County and would like us to review your case with you for 30-minutes at no charge. We are friendly and knowledgeable so do not hesitate to reach out.

Washington State Statute Related to Dividing Property and Debt in Marriage

RCW 26.09.080 is the primary statue in Washington state for determining what property each spouse receives in the divorce and what debt each spouse will pay.

The statute provides that the court shall, without regard to misconduct, make such disposition of the property and the liabilities of the parties, either community or separate, as shall appear just and equitable after considering all relevant factors including, but not limited to:

  1. The nature and extent of the community property;
  2. The nature and extent of the separate property;
  3. The duration of the marriage or domestic partnership; and
  4. The economic circumstances of each spouse or domestic partner at the time the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to a spouse or domestic partner with  whom the children reside the majority of the time.

If you have any questions on the division of property or debt in your case, including a business, retirement plans, real estate, bank accounts or any other property, feel free to contact property division lawyers in Tacoma.  Our phone number is (253) 234-1934.

Is Washington a Community Property State?

Washington is a community property state. This means that anything obtained prior to the marriage or through gift or inheritance is presumed separate property and earnings from employment and other sources that do not constitute separate property during the marriage are presumed community property. This does not mean that both parties will necessarily keep their separate property. A judge is supposed to divide property in a just and equitable manner using the statutory factors. Sometimes things can become more complicated with separate property being used for a down payment on a residence or the comingling of separate property with community property and vice versa. It is important to speak with an experienced Tacoma property division lawyer to discuss your situation.

Can Property Obtained Prior to Marriage be Divided?

The Court can award property that was obtained prior to marriage to you or your spouse if it is considered just and equitable under the statute at the discretion of the judge. Also, the court can consider property obtained prior to marriage to be community like if the property was obtained while the parties were in what is referred to as a Committed Intimate Relationship. This is a relationship that is “marriage like” though the parties were not married at the time of acquiring the property or never married. This can be the case even if your name or your spouses name is not on the property. Because of the complexities of these situations, it is advisable to contact an attorney in Tacoma who practices in property division cases.

What if the Property is not in My Name?

You may still have rights to property that is not in your name. If you are married or in a committed relationship, you should speak with a lawyer who is experienced in property division to evaluate your situation with you.  Spouses or committed partners often put property in one partner’s name only. This can be for a variety of reasons such as credit worthiness, simplicity of transactions, one spouse has more control of the finances, manipulation of a spouse, etc. Our Tacoma property division attorneys our experienced in advocating for the rights of our clients in these situations. To speak with an attorney who can help you know and understand your rights feel free to reach out to us in the contact form.

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