Dividing property and debts in a divorce

Washington is one of nine states in the United States that have community property laws. In general, this means that all property gained during a marriage belongs to both spouses. Property acquired prior to marriage, by inheritance, or as a gift before, during, or after the marriage is normally separate property that belongs to only one spouse. Community debt is debt incurred during a marriage for which both partners share equal responsibility. Debt incurred before or after the marriage is referred to as separate debt. A court will consider community property and debt when dividing property and debt in a divorce, but it may not distribute them 50/50. Courts have the power to divide property in any way that is just and equitable, taking into account the form and extent of community and separate property, the length of the marriage, each spouse’s financial status, and other factors.