Washington Marital Property Laws

Washington Marital Property Laws at a Glance

Marital property refers to all possessions (including ownership interests) acquired during a couple's marriage. This also includes all debts incurred by the couple during marriage, with some exceptions. Washington's marital property laws recognize the concept of "community property," in which all property is presumed to be subject to division upon divorce, instead of the more complicated methods used in many other states.

What is Community (Marital) Property According to Washington Law?

Washington is one of just a few remaining "community property" states in the country, which means items considered marital property are generally split equally. According to Washington law, marital (or community) property is that which was acquired by either party during the course of the marriage, with some exceptions. Community property generally includes:

  • All earnings of either spouse during the marriage (including interest on investments, capital gains, retirement benefits, and other assets)
  • All property obtained with earnings during the course of the marriage
  • All property obtained with community funds

For couples that move from a state that does not recognize community property, the property each spouse acquires in that other state is considered separate property in the event of a divorce in Washington.

What is Not Considered Marital Property in Washington?

Items (including real estate and other assets of value) not considered community property are called separate property. These assets are not part of the property settlement in a divorce. But gifts that are clearly given to both parties (such a check written out to both names) are community property. Separate property in Washington may include:

  • Birthday gifts
  • Items purchased prior to marriage
  • Inheritances

Keep in mind that an item may lose its separate property status if separate and community funds are mixed to the point where they are indistinguishable, or if both spouses agree to have all separate property counted as community property.

The basics of Washington marital property laws are detailed in following chart, with links to additional articles and resources. See Community Property Overview to learn more.

Community Property Recognized? Yes (§26.16.030)
Dower And Curtesy Dower and curtesy abolished (§11.04.060)

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Washington divorce attorney and conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Washington Marital Property Laws: Related Resources

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