Coping with the ending of your marriage can be stressful, emotional, and overwhelming. Even spouses who have made the decision to part ways amicably must face several monumental tasks, such as property division, spousal support, and more. One of the most time-consuming aspects of the divorce process is determining how your property and debts will be divided between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Enlisting the guidance of an experienced Vancouver divorce and family law attorney is the best way to ensure you move through this process as smoothly as possible. In the meantime, it’s helpful to learn a bit more about how Washington courts typically approach property division during the divorce process.
Understanding Community Property and Separate Property
Like many states, Washington is a community property state. This means that any property and debts accumulated during the duration of your marriage (including your income) are presumed to be community property shared by both spouses. In contrast, assets or debts you or your spouse acquired before the marriage are typically considered separate property. For the most part, Washington courts seek to divide community property equitably between the divorcing spouses. However, it’s important to note that “equitable” does not always mean “equal.” Rather than splitting the community property fifty-fifty, the court will consider an approach that enables both spouses to have the resources they need to begin the next chapter of their newly independent lives.
Factors Influencing the Division of Property
Washington courts use several factors to determine the most just and equitable division of property during the divorce process. They usually look at the nature and extent of the community property, the amount and nature of any separate property, the duration of the marriage, and the financial circumstances of each spouse. For instance, the court may see that one spouse earns considerably more than the other and award the lower-earning spouse a slightly higher amount of community property to ensure both spouses have solid economic foundations moving forward.
Keeping the Future Bright
Just as no two marriages are alike, each divorce requires a customized approach. Although some may pursue a divorce without enlisting the guidance of a Washington family law attorney, taking this step is the best way to ensure you walk away from your marriage with the stability and support you need to start anew. Your attorney will answer your questions, address your concerns, and help you identify the most appropriate course of action to achieve your divorce goals. With a trusted divorce attorney by your side, you can navigate the divorce process with greater clarity and confidence.
If you have questions about the divorce process in the Vancouver area, call John L. Davis, PLLC, today at (360) 597-4740 to learn more.