During a divorce one of the most tedious processes is dividing property. It is essential for the court to first label or characterize property, discovering what assets constitute community property and what assets constitute separate property. Since Washington is a community property state, this helps to make the process a little easier. As the Washington State Legislature generally defines marital property as any property onerously acquired after the marriage. Property acquired after marriage by gift or inheritance, however, is usually separate property.
Being a community property state means you and your spouse have rights to your marital property. In short, the court will divide any marital property in a fair and equitable manner between the two of you. Community property is much different than the idea used by most other states in the country, which is equitable distribution. It is a more straightforward way to define what is marital property and what is not.
The simple idea of any property obtained after the marriage becomes property of both spouses can streamline the property division process in a divorce. Of course, you may still negotiate for assets. You may not split every asset in half so as to avoid having to sell assets and split the profits. However, the end result should always be a fair and equitable division of assets as far as value.
In other states, there are generally many factors that go into play as to whether an asset is marital property or not. This can complicate the process and lead to longer court hearings when dividing property. Both systems, community property and equitable distribution, do strive for fairness. The main difference lies in defining assets as marital property. This information is for education and is not legal advice.