When you file for divorce, there are usually countless questions on your mind. What will the process be like? What does the future hold? You might also have a lot of questions about the financial consequences of this decision. Understanding how the state of Washington handles debts during the divorce process can help you better prepare for the future. Today we’re answering some of the most frequently asked questions about debts and divorce.
Is Washington a community property state?
Yes, Washington is a community property state along with Louisiana, Arizona, California, Texas, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin. This means that assets acquired during the marriage are considered "community property” owned by the spouses as undivided half interests.
What does being a community property state mean for debts?
It means that all debts acquired during the marriage are shared between the spouses. However, debts incurred before the marriage or after you separated are not included in this.
So will community debts just always be divided 50/50 during the divorce?
You probably won’t be surprised to learn it’s not quite that simple. The court will take a lot of factors into consideration when deciding how your community debts should be divided. These factors include:
How long did your marriage last?
How much and what kind of community and separate property do you have?
Are you both employed? What are your work prospects? What is your educational background?
What is the child custody arrangement going to be?
Ultimately, Washington family courts aim for a “just and equitable” division of property during the divorce process.
What does “just and equitable” mean in the eyes of the court?
It can mean a lot of things depending on your unique situation, but at the end of the day it basically means they will try to be fair and reasonable. For example, if one spouse is extremely wealthy and the other isn’t, they probably wouldn’t burden the less secure spouse with intolerable levels of debt they have no way of handling. However, what seems fair to you might not be what seems fair to your spouse or the judge. This is why it is important to have an experienced family law attorney by your side to represent your best interests.
Who can help?
If you are facing a divorce or another family law matter, the team at The Law Offices of Mackenzie Sorich, PLLC is here to help you. We encourage you to contact us today to learn how we can protect your rights during this process.