how is property divided in washington state

How Does Division Of Property Work In Washington State?

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Types Of Property Division

Washington is a Community Property state. Only nine of the fifty states—and Alaska by agreement—in the union adhere to community property statutes. The rest abide by equitable distribution.

What Is Community Property?

A Community property state views all property and debts acquired during a marriage as belonging equally to both spouses. The law presumes joint ownership, no matter who acquired a particular asset. In the case of divorce, the court divides property as such.

All property acquired or earned during a marriage generally constitutes marital property. Despite a name on a title, Oregon courts presume both spouses contributed to any assets acquired during the marriage, whether true or not. Property equally acquired is subsequently equally distributed in divorce, in a fair, equitable fashion.

What Is Separate Property?

As the name implies, the separate property belongs to one spouse or the other. Though it’s usually something owned before marriage, this category also includes gifts or inheritance received during the marriage.

The court can include separate property if fairness dictates, but in general, it remains with the owner. In longer marriages, things become much more intertwined and the line between separate and marital property tends to blur.

What is Equitable Distribution?

Our neighbor to the south, Oregon, along with 39 other states practice what’s called “equitable distribution”. Essentially, this method views property as belonging to the individual spouse who earned it. When it comes to divorce, no set rules for the division of property exist, but the court divides the assets between both parties in a fair and equitable manner.

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