For example, if you were married for five years and during that time you contributed $50,000 to your retirement account or pension plan, your spouse would likely be entitled to a 50% share or $25,000. Washington Is a “Community Property” State. If your 401(k) is performing well, or if you … Similarly, all debts accrued during the course of your marriage are also considered to be community and subject to division. by Samuel K. Darling, Divorce at Family Law Lawyer at Genesis Law Firm. Protecting your retirement is obviously one of the most important things you do in the divorce process. You can protect yourself by understanding the law in Washington and getting quality representation to help guide you through a divorce strategically and efficiently. We will get back to you shortly. When there is conflict and debate, stress and emotion can rise to very uncomfortable levels. A pension earned by one spouse is usually considered a joint asset, as are other retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s and IRAs, though state laws govern the latter. In Washington State, divorce laws regarding property division dictate that the final settlement or ruling must be “just and equitable.” This doesn’t mean that parties split everything 50/50—instead, a judge may consider each party’s personal circumstances to determine the fairest result. Your divorce order must specify division. Getting divorced in Washington means more than splitting the sheets. Various other issues can create additional complexities (for example, if you established your retirement account before you got married), and establishing a definitive list of community assets can require significant time, effort, and attention to detail. There are no comments for this post. Any portion of the military retirement earned during the marriage is community property. Without a clear understanding of what your community assets are worth, you will not be able to make informed decisions regarding the equitable distribution of your marital estate. Paul Battan has worked with the division of retirement assets in divorce for over 30 years. After identifying and placing an appropriate valuation on your community assets, you can then turn your attention toward formulating an equitable distribution. It is essential that you work with a skilled family law attorney who will help you navigate this process, negotiate on your behalf and protect your best interests. But if you paid into your 401(k) before marriage, the court may decide that only a portion of your retirement account should be divided. It is recommended that you work with a family law attorney who will help to prepare and inform you of your legal rights and options in this process. To schedule an appointment at our law offices in Tacoma, WA, please call 253-272-2997 or send us a message online today. What Happens If I’m Under 21 & Arrested For DUI? Under Washington law, all assets acquired during the marriage are subject to division (with limited exceptions), and some assets acquired prior to the marriage may be on the table as well. Our attorneys will advocate for your best interests and help you to protect your assets wherever possible. Minor in Possession & Minor in Consumption, 4th Degree Assault & Domestic Violence Assault, Sexual Exploitation / Patronizing a Prostitute, Felony Theft / Theft in the 1st & 2nd Degree, Your Mental Health and Weekends in the COVID-19 Era, 7 Ways To Survive Divorce With Your Sanity Intact, Top 3 Tech Changes You Need to Make ASAP in Divorce or Separation. Our attorneys in Tacoma, Washington, take a straight-forward approach to the law. Unless otherwise designated in as separate in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, that pretty much covers it. 253-272-2997. As noted above, additional complexities can arise if an account was established prior to the marriage, as this can result in separate portions of the account being deemed separate and community property. We offer the best comprehensive and personalized divorce, family law, and criminal defense representation in the greater Seattle Area. While this may be a non-issue for assets that were recently acquired, particularly in the case of a long-term marriage, it is not unusual for the date of acquisition to become an issue for certain items of real and personal property. What Is An Ignition Interlock Device And Will I Have To Use One? Two primary types of divorce laws are in effect: community property law and equitable distribution. There is a fair amount of social stigma attached to prenuptial agreements, but we strongly advise to consider putting one in place prior to your marriage. Quit Claim Deed & Divorce in Washington State. The divorce cannot be granted until 90 days have elapsed after the petition for divorce is filed. If you did not, it is never too late to do a post-nuptial agreement if you both want to make sure that you and not a court will decide what happens to your accounts in the event of a divorce. Washington is a “no-fault” divorce state. Transferring all or part of tax-deferred retirement benefits requires special handling. Legal advice should be sought directly from a properly retained lawyer or attorney. Washington State Divorce Laws for the Division of Community Property. If you are thinking about filing for divorce, or if think your spouse may be preparing to file for divorce, we encourage you to contact us for a confidential initial consultation. Oftentimes, spouses will disagree over the appropriate valuation of assets such as real estate and privately-held businesses, and it will be necessary to engage the services of a neutral third-party appraiser to provide a valuation. Unlike most other states, there are no residency requirements to initiate a divorce on Washington. Community assets are distinguishable from “separate” assets, which generally are not subject to distribution. Washington law requires that the court's division of your property be "just and equitable" (RCW 26.09.080). Washington is not a common law marriage state. DISTRACTED DRIVING LAWS MAY TOUGHEN SIGNIFICANTLY – PUT DOWN THE PHONE! It is a complicated and important area of divorce law. These are all important questions to consider now so that you can make informed and confident decisions during your divorce. The following is a non-exhaustive list of the factors our firm believes judges weigh most heavily: 1. There’s two fundamental questions you have to keep in mind in respect to protecting your retirement. This depends largely on laws in the state where the divorce is finalized. . I’M MOVING IN WITH MY PARTNER. But Washington will recognize a common-law marriage that occurred in a common-law marriage state. Please complete all required fields below. In fact, retirement benefits are considered community property and so are subject to division in divorces in Washington State. Request Consultation: Marriages or domestic partnerships in Washington can end through an annulment, legal separation or a divorce, also known as a dissolution of marriage. Some states follow “community property” standards. What the law deems separate property is fairly limited. The divorce process is designed to ensure a fair outcome, and this inherently involves compromise on the part of both spouses. Or, rather than dividing ownership of a business (which can present a variety of issues for both spouses), the spouse who runs the business might retain sole ownership while the other spouse takes another high-value asset such as the family home or vacation property. Usually, whatever is earned prior to the marriage remains individual property, while what is earned during the marriage is considered a joint asset. This means it belongs to both of you regardless of the name on the account if it was acquired during the marriage and is subject to division along just and equitable lines. Washington law requires a “just and equitable” distribution of assets that takes into account: Critically, while community assets are deemed to be owned equally by both spouses, an equitable distribution does not necessarily mean an equal distribution. How Is a 401(k) Split in a Divorce? For example, you may ask to keep your entire 401(k) in exchange for some other asset. If you believe that your spouse has a pension, 401(k), IRA, or other retirement or disability plan, talk with a lawyer about your rights. You can also protect your 401k and other assets through a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Yes, you are entitled to your community property share of his retirement and he is entitled to his share of yours. Dividing the Property Along with the normal Washington property division laws, the federal government has enacted the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) that governs how military retirement benefits are calculated and divided upon divorce. You only need to reside in Washington when you file a petition with the court. Often parties will agree to each keep their own retirement benefits, and use some other asset (such as equity in a house) to balance the property division. This means the 401k is fair game to become part of the divorce settlement and divided, per Washington State, along “just and equitable” lines. This means that even when spouses agree on all the terms of the divorce, they still need to wait 90 days to divorce under Washington state divorce laws. Accessing one’s retirement account for the purposes of withdrawing money before reaching the age of 55 years old can result in specific federal income tax and penalties. A knowledgeable attorney will not only tell you the laws in your state but will also ensure that the proposed agreement is in your best interest now and in the future. The QDRO can award either a … This is not because people are assuming their marriage will end in divorce, but because they are choosing to be prepared for all outcomes and protecting themselves and their separate property. Includes real estate, vehicles, investments, business interests, financial holdings,,. Now so that you will keep your entire 401 ( k ) contributions consider now that. Purpose of providing basic information only and should not be entirely dispositive of! 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