Washington property division lawyer
Few financial transactions expose your assets to as much risk as divorce, and none are performed during such an emotional upheaval. Clients suffering guilt for wanting out of the marriage, or attempting to save the marriage at all costs, are inclined to surrender far too much in asset value to their ex-spouse.
Do not fall into these traps – hire a skilled Washington property and debt division lawyer. A good divorce lawyer will evaluate and analyze marital assets in order to:
- Reach an equitable division of the estate
- Protect their client’s assets and interests in accordance with the law
- Create an asset protection plan with other financial experts, including business or real estate appraisers, a CPA or tax attorney, and a financial advisor.
With a well-structured, thoughtful asset protection plan in place, you will be able to begin your new life with the financial security you deserve. To learn more about how we can help protect your financial security, call Divorce Lawyers For Men™ at (360) 866-7393.
It is a common belief among men that their spouse will take everything in a divorce, but this does not have to happen and should not happen. Washington is a community property state which means that, at the time of divorce, the marital assets and debts must be equitably divided between spouses.
This includes all assets acquired during the marriage, (even if it was only one spouse that was employed). Any property that is deemed separate, such as if acquired via inheritance or a gift given to only one spouse, remains with the owner of the asset.
Any property obtained before the marriage remains with the owner of that property. However, any increase in an asset’s value during the marriage may be subject to division.
Debts such as mortgages, car loans, credit card debt, and medical expenses will also be divided between the parties as long as they were accumulated during the marriage. When debt is divided in a divorce, both parties are legally responsible for the portion of the debt allocated to them. This can be a tricky concept to navigate, so you need an experienced divorce attorney who can help you find the best solution.
If there is no divorce settlement agreement in place, it is the court’s job to “equitably” divide the community estate, but equitably does not always mean “equally.” Instead, the court will look at both parties’ financial resources, earning potential, and lifestyle during the marriage to determine what is equitable.
This may result in one spouse keeping the house and the other getting a larger portion of retirement, investment, or bank accounts, or it could mean one spouse getting the business and the other taking a larger share of investment accounts.
Even property you owned separately before the marriage can potentially be divided by the court. The court looks at the contribution each spouse made to that asset during the marriage. In other words, if you owned a home before marriage and the community contributed to the mortgage payments during the marriage, the court could award your spouse a portion of that asset.
Divorce law in Washington generally regards assets and debts acquired during the marriage as community property, but everything the spouses acquired and owned before the marriage is separate property.
Generally, each party is awarded their own separate property and a portion of the community property. When dividing property, the court considers several factors including the length of the marriage and the financial differences between the spouses.
If a marriage lasted a long time or if one spouse is severely financially challenged, the court may even award a portion of your separate property to your spouse. This is to ensure both parties can live comfortably after the divorce is finalized — but mistakes can be made.
The division of property may hit men hard because some husbands work more than their wives, so a man can suddenly see everything he has worked for being given away — and not necessarily equally. Men who have worked hard to build a small business face the possibility of losing part of it in divorce or being forced to sell.
Characterizing property as “community” or “separate” is often one of the most difficult tasks during a divorce. Many legal issues can affect that determination. With that being said, it is vital for you and your attorney to be thorough in your valuation of the assets. You may need the assistance of real estate agents and/or accountants to provide accurate appraisals of property or business holdings. Other experts, such as vocational evaluators, may be necessary to evaluate earning capacity of a spouse.
Once the divorce is final, the property and debt division included in the decree is also final and cannot be changed. You only have one opportunity to win a fair division of the property, and it must happen before the divorce is finalized. With a qualified divorce attorney on your side from the outset, you can ensure that you and your hard-earned estate are protected.
Many men are surprised to discover that pensions and retirement plans — including 401(k) accounts, IRAs, and mutual fund accounts — are often considered community property. Even though these investment accounts are usually in the name of just one spouse, the other spouse may receive a share of the funds during the division of assets if contributions were made during the marriage.
If the account holder began contributing to the account before the marriage, the court may determine that only a portion of the funds are community property. In that case, your spouse would receive an equitable share of just the contributions to the account during the marriage and the growth (or loss) on those contributions, not the entire account.
The final division of retirement funds will likely be executed using a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). This is a court order that allows the retirement plan administrator to divide the retirement funds without incurring early withdrawal penalties. Often, a QDRO will result in a new account — like a 401(k) — being opened in the name of your ex-spouse and funded with their share of the retirement funds.
Depending on the type of benefit plan, there are different rules governing division. Speak with one of our attorneys to learn more about how your retirement plan will be affected.
Secure a fair outcome with the help of an attorney
The outcome of your divorce will shape the rest of your life. With the assistance of a skilled divorce attorney, you and your spouse may be able to agree on how to divide assets in a mutually beneficial way. This can help you avoid the stress and expense of a court trial. But if your case does need to go to court, you can count on our attorneys to fight for your rights.
No matter your situation, attorneys at Divorce Lawyers For Men™ can advise and assist you in carefully evaluating your assets and debts — and those of your spouse — in order to get you the fairest division of property possible.
When you work with us, we will help you seek an equitable outcome that is advantageous to your financial future. If you are ready to begin moving forward with the help of a reputable Washington property division lawyer, give us a call at (360) 866-7393 to schedule a consultation today.