How do the Washington State Courts divide property?

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” no matter whether the property is in the name of one spouse or the other.

My spouse has been unfaithful in our marriage. Does this entitle me to a greater share of our marital assets?

No. Washington has adopted a “no fault” standard for divorce which means that the court may not consider the conduct of the other spouse. However, if the other spouse used significant marital assets inappropriately in carrying on an affair, the court may consider such evidence in determining a “fair and equitable” division of assets.

My spouse has physically/mentally abused me during our marriage. Am I entitled to a greater share of our marital assets?

No. However, physical or mental abuse could serve as a basis for obtaining a restraining order against the abusive spouse or restricting the abusive spouse’s residential time with children of the marriage.

My husband and I don’t have much property. Should I consider having an attorney represent me?

Possibly. If you own a house with equity, have retirement accounts, pension plans or savings, the court will consider this property in determining a “fair and equitable” distribution of assets. Additionally, if you have significant debts you may want to have legal representation as well.