If you and your spouse contemplate getting a Washington divorce, you need to know that Washington represents one of the few remaining community property states. What this means is that the two of you must divide all your marital property equally between you when you divorce.

Per Washington law, your marital property consists of everything you and your spouse have accumulated during your marriage. It also consists of all the debt you have taken on during your marriage. In general, your marital property consists of the following things:

  • The earnings each of you has made during the marriage
  • The interest you have earned on your investments, retirement benefits, etc.
  • The things, including real estate, you have purchased with your respective earnings
  • The business interests either of you has acquired during your marriage

Separate property

Your separate property belongs to you and you alone, and need not be split between you and your soon-to-be former spouse. Generally, separate property consists of the following:

  • Property and assets you owned prior to your marriage
  • Inheritances you received during your marriage
  • Gifts you received individually during your marriage
  • Any property you acquired during your marriage while you lived in a state that does not recognize community property

Bear in mind that while a clear line of distinction exists between most separate and marital property, such is not always the case. For instance, if you owned a house prior to your marriage on which you had a mortgage, you made mortgage payments with community property funds after you married. Therefore, the amount of the difference between the fair market value of your house now as opposed to at the time of your marriage may well be community property.