Washington Property Division FAQ
By Erik Bjornson, Attorney at Law
Overview: All of the property of the marriage will be divided by court order in a dissolution. Property division between the parties can vary widely by 30 - 40 percent or more based on the evaluations of the property, and the income and health of the parties and many other factors. Separate property and inherited property may or may not be divided depending on the circumstances.
- How does the Washington State Courts divide property? Doesn't the court just split the property based on the name of the person the property is in?
The court has a great deal of discretion on how to divide the property of a marriage. The court will divide the property in a dissolution based on what it determines is "fair and equitable."
- My spouse has committed adulatory during the marriage. Can't I tell the judge this fact and receive a greater portion of the property of the marriage?
Not generally. Washington has adopted a "no fault" standard for divorce which means that the court may not normally consider the conduct of the other spouse. However, if the other spouse has taken action to waste the community assets of the marriage, then the information may be relevant. For instance, a court may consider evidence that a spouse has spent a great deal of money while carrying on an affair behind the back of the other party.
- I am in the military and have been told a great many things about when the spouse of a serviceman may and may not obtain a portion of my military retirement. When can a spouse obtain part of a military retirement?
Military retirement and disability issues are very complex and involve both federal and state law. Usually, the military will not divide the retirement until the service member has been married for 10 years while in the military. However, Washington State courts will still require the retirement plan be considered in the divorce proceeding and may require the service member to make payments directly to the former spouse.
You want to make sure you select an attorney who has experience in military retirement issues. Preferably one who has had numerous military QDROs accepted by the federal military pay center.