Depending on the state you live in, property is divided in two different ways during a divorce: community property or non-community (separate) property. Non-community property states use a “fair instead of equal” approach to property division in which assets are dealt with equitably instead of equally. Washington State, however, is a community property state, which means that the court considers that each spouse owns half of any property acquired during the course of the marriage.
Generally, in community property situations, a judge will split most property and assets 50-50, regardless of who may have technically earned or acquired it–and regardless of who owns the property according to a title. Debts are shared in the same way: no matter which spouse acquires the debt, both husband and wife are equally responsible for paying it. The philosophy behind the community property division is that both husband and wife are part of a single family unit and both presumably make different but equally important contributions to the relationship.
There are two major exceptions to community property jurisdiction: gifts to one particular spouse and when one particular spouse inherits money or property from someone else.
Do you have a question about how your property, assets, and debts will be divided during the divorce process? Speak to a Seattle divorce lawyer at the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny today to schedule a private consultation: 425-460-0550.