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Property Division

The division of assets and debts at the end of a marriage is oftentimes one of the most highly contested issues keeping the divorce from being finalized. Cases can stall, and substantial amounts of money can be spent in attorney’s fees trying to secure the division you seek. For this reason, our Bellevue family law attorneys focus on achieving quick and amicable resolutions to these issues. Oftentimes, the key in these situations is to understand what the other side wants, and to leverage this into securing your desires. Northwest Law Group attorneys working in King county understand this and will help you build a winning strategy.

In Washington, all assets and debts acquired during a marriage can be divided by a court during a divorce proceeding. Even separate property items you paid for exclusively with your own money. For example, if you purchased a car with your own funds exclusively, the laws of our state categorize that as communal property of the marriage and is thus subject to being divided. The term “property” is to include your bank accounts, house, cars, investment/retirement accounts, and business interests. For many people, items acquired during the marriage hold both sentimental and financial value. A divorce case means you will lose a portion of these items, so our Bellevue family law attorneys work to ensure you retain all your desired property.

It is difficult to know what some pieces of your property are really worth. For certain items, the sentimental value cannot be calculated, while for other items a clear “market-value” may not exist. While other pieces of property can only really be divided if sold. The division of property, whether by a court or through negotiation, has three steps. To begin, all property is designated as either community or separate, then each item is valued, and finally the items are divided. Each step of this process has various points of contention. Our Bellevue family law attorneys understand the pitfalls in each of these areas that can derail a case for months if not more. They will work with you to create a plan that will resolve any contentious issues quickly all while securing the property you desire.

Community Property versus Separate Property

This is the first thing the court will do when determining how the property will be divided between the spouses. Washington is considered a “community property” state regarding all assets and debts acquired during the marriage. Property acquired before the marriage is separate and will not be considered when the court divides your property. An exception to this rule is property received as a gift, whether it be from a family member or otherwise. There are certain instances where separate property acquired before the marriage can be included in the court’s calculation. Even if you are not positive about wanting a divorce, a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys can provide you with a clear picture of what lies ahead.

How is Property Valued?

Most of the property you and your spouse acquired during your marriage can be valued without too much contention. Pieces of property like your home, cars, and savings account can be valued with relative ease by an appraiser or other evaluator. Often in short term marriages, or marriages without substantial community assets, these will be the primary assets to be divided. Other types of assets can be extremely difficult to value, like the value of a business that one spouse started and maintained over the marriage. In instances like this, both parties hire their own evaluator. The valuations differing can be a major source of contention between the parties, so retaining an experienced family law attorney from our Bellevue office can make a huge difference in solving these issues quickly so you don’t waste your money.

How are Assets and Debts Divided?

The law that outlines what factors the court should consider in determining the property division is set forth in RCW 26.09.080. The primary goal of the court is to secure a just and equitable division of the assets and debts accumulated during the marriage. The first two relevant factors are related to the nature and extent of the community and separate property and are accounted for in the first step of the process explained above.

How long the marriage lasted is another consideration, but one of the most important is the circumstances of each spouse when the property division is to become effective. If one party is awarded the majority of the residential time with the children, the court factor this into the equitable division of property. The court acts to minimize disruptions to the children, and this can often be an argument for why the custodial parent should be awarded the family home.

Every situation is different, so the things one should consider are different for pretty much every family. Making decisions that work in your best interest are particularly difficult in this context. Our Bellevue family law attorneys will work with you to create a strategy that secures the outcome you desire. The only way to increase the chances of getting the pieces of property you desire in hyper-subjective contexts like this is to retain an experienced attorney. Northwest Law Group Bellevue family law attorneys are experienced, and will fuse their knowledge of the relevant law with this experience to ensure you are awarded everything you desire.

Client Reviews
Thank you, Northwest Law Group and Alice, our wonderful attorney, for making us feel heard. You clearly care about your clients, and I cannot thank you enough for your urgency in finalizing the case in a way that was the most beneficial to me and my kids. My children are in a stable home now and we have been able to move on, all thanks to you, Alice and your firm. - V.P
When I received the divorce papers from my husband, I was extremely worried and didn’t know what to do. I found Alice and Northwest Law Group through a friend, and just after my first meeting with Alice, I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. She explained everything to me and continued to do so as she represented me through the conclusion of my case. I don’t know what I would have done without Alice! - Z.B
I just want to thank Northwest Law Group, PLLC. for being professionals in handling my DUI case. I made a huge mistake when I got behind the wheel of my car after a night of drinking. Thankfully, you were able to help me work through the confusing court process, ensuring that my mistake didn’t end up costing me time at work or with my family. - Anonymous