Washington is a community property state. This means that any property that is considered marital will, in most instances, be split evenly between the two parties to a divorce. Therefore, it is important that readers understand what the state considers to be marital property in order to understand how the community property laws of the jurisdiction will impact their divorces.
Marital property is property that is not separate property. Separate property may include property that a person was gifted and that was not also gifted to their spouse. It may include money or property received exclusively by one party to a marriage through an inheritance. It may also include property that a spouse owned before they got married and that was not later converted to marital property during their marriage.
A couple's marital property may then include the collective wages and income the spouses bring home during the term of their marriage and any property or investments they obtain through those earnings. Marital property can be property that was once classified as separate property but that, through the use of community funds, was turned into marital property through financial contributions.
A person will generally walk away from their marriage with their separate property. If, though, their separate property became marital property it may be divided up in their property settlement agreement or order. Once property is classified a court will seek to grant each partner to the ending marriage a sum of assets from the marital pool. The presence of prenuptial agreements can change how courts address this important divorce-related matter and as such all readers can benefit from seeking their own legal counsel on how community property laws will affect their divorce outcomes.