When dealing with inheritance in a divorce case, you need to know about community vs. separate property in Washington, and how community property laws may affect you.

Defining Community Property in Washington State

Community property is broadly defined as all assets and property acquired during a marriage, regardless of which partner acquires them. Separate property is property acquired by one spouse prior to marriage. Some types of assets, even when they are acquired during the marriage, are still considered separate property under the Revised Code of Washington Section 26.16.10. Those things that are named as separate property include property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, descent or inheritance.

Will I Have to Split My Inheritance With My Spouse When Getting Divorced?

Whether or not your inheritance will be divided during the course of your divorce varies on a case-by-case basis. Generally, property that is considered separate — as is an inheritance — is not divided.

However, if you deposited the inheritance into a joint account, for example, it may comingle with community property and become part of your community property. In that case, it can be subject to property division during your divorce.

Other Ways an Inheritance Can Affect a Divorce Case

Even if an inheritance is determined to be separate property and is not up for division during divorce proceedings, it still may affect the outcome of a divorce case. For example, many divorce cases result in a judge ordering one spouse to pay child support payments or spousal support payments. These can be influenced by the economic means of both parties. If you are the recipient of a large inheritance, you may have to pay a larger child support or spousal support payment.

The Revised Code of Washington Section 26.09.090 states other factors a court must consider when making a determination about spousal maintenance include duration of the marriage, financial obligations, mental and physical condition of the spouse seeking maintenance, the standard of living established during the marriage and the education or training level of the person seeking maintenance.

Learn More About Inheritance in Divorce Today

If you are hoping to protect an inheritance during a divorce, or if you believe you are entitled to a portion of your partner’s inheritance during a divorce, call the attorneys at the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny now. We can help you determine whether the inheritance will be considered community or separate property and how it may affect the divorce proceedings. Reach us today at (425) 460-0550 or contact us to schedule an appointment.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington
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