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Divorce Question: What is Community Property?

“What is Community Property” is a very common question asked during a divorce consultation with our attorneys at Althauser Rayan Abbarno.  Knowing community/separate property and how it is distributed is very important to any person going through a divorce.

Althauser Rayan Abbarno offers divorce and family law consultations in Olympia and Centralia by calling (360) 736-1301.

What is “community property”?

Divorce and Family Law Attorneys in Centralia and Olympia at (360) 736-1301.

Washington is a “community property” state. Generally, property acquired during marriage is presumed community property, with both parties having an equal but undivided interest in the property. Community property laws can be complicated and may required tracing the origins of the property or improvement of the property.  Couples who have been married a long time, who have significant property, or who own a business will want to seek legal advice on how to best determine a fair and equitable distribution.

What is “separate property”? “

Separate property” means property that does no constitute community property.  Generally, separate property is real and personal property owned before marriage, or received during the marriage as a gift or  inheritance, or that was bought with separate money. In some cases, determining what is separate property can be complex or unclear and getting legal advice can be important.

How property and debts are divided?

Call Althauser Rayan Abbarno at (360) 736-1301.

Property, whether community or separate, can be divided by agreement or through the court. When a married couple divorces or legally separates, property and debts must be divided. Property means land, homes, possessions, bank accounts, retirement funds, and business and contract rights.  Even if the division of assets and debts is agreed upon, the division of assets and debt must be determined by the court to be  just and equitable under the circumstances.

Does the court divide property and debts 50/50?

A just and equitable division of assets and debts does not mean 50-50; although it can under certain circumstances.  Courts may divide property and debts unequally for a number of reasons; income, separate assets, etc.  Each case is very fact specific.

What if a spouse misbehaved/cheated during the marriage?

Bad behavior does not usually affect how property and debts are divided. This means that the court will not award one spouse more of the property just because the other spouse misbehaved or was at fault. An exception to this general rule is when the misbehavior  resulted in the waste or destruction of property. A court may give one spouse more property when the other spouse did something to waste, lose, or destroy community property.

What about taxes?

Property division, property settlements, and family support arrangements can have serious tax consequences to the parties, and your tax-filing status may be affected. Property and debt divisions are final and cannot be modified later, except under extremely limited and unusual circumstances.

Why contact Althauser Rayan Abbarno?

We are here when you need us most! (360) 736-1301

Althauser Rayan Abbarno has been representing individuals and businesses in our community for more than 70 years. To meet with our divorce and family law attorneys in Olympia or Centralia, call (360) 736-1301 or visit CentraliaLaw.com.