Property Divisions

When parties separate there are often issues of how to divide the property.  All property is before the court, both separate and community.  The court recognizes the need to make two households out of one, but also knows full-well that there is often insufficient resources to make a painless division.  In simple terms, separate property is that property acquired prior to marriage and after separation, proceeds from clearly traceable separate property, inheritance or gift.  Community property, in simple, terms is that property acquired during the community.  There is no default standard that since Washington is a community property state everything is divided 50/50.  Instead, the standard is “fair and equitable”–what is fair and equitable under the specific factors in your particular case?  Perhaps the parties were married for one year only and both brought separate household items into the relationship.  The court often rules that the fair and equitable resolution is to return to the parties what he or she brought into the marriage.  In another scenario, perhaps the parties were married for 30 years and the husband worked for Boeing during that time and built up a sizeable VIP, 401k and pension.  The wife was a stay-at-home wife and mother for the duration of the 30-year marriage.  In this scenario, it would not be unusual to divide the retirement accounts and assets factoring in what is required for the wife to be trained to become self-supporting based on the duration of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, as well as other statutory considerations.  Discussion with an experienced family law attorney is advisable based on your particular case.