In our last post, we began looking at how property division works here in Washington. As we noted, this state uses a community property approach which does not presume a 50-50 split of property and liabilities, but rather calls for a just and equitable division under the specific circumstances of the case.
State statute lists a handful of factors for judges to consider in property division. These include: the nature and extent of community property and separate property; the duration of the marriage; and the economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division is to become effective, including which party has physical custody of the children the majority of the time. As to the latter factor, courts may give greater consideration to awarding the family home to the party who has custody the majority of the time if it is in the best interests of the children to remain in the family home.
Debts and liabilities are handled according the same principles outlined above. This means that a court is able to award both community debts and liabilities and separate debts and liabilities to either party as needed to achieve a just and equitable outcome under the circumstances of the case.
It should be understood that family court judges have a great deal of discretion when it comes to property division. This is why it is so important to work with an experienced attorney who is able to advocate for one’s property interests. Achieving a just and equitable result is more likely when one has an advocate to zealously represent one’s interests in court.