Community Property vs. Separate Property In Washington State

Posted: May 1, 2019

By: Washington State Family Law Lawyer Anne B. Bennette

In a marriage dissolution, individuals frequently ask what assets and debts are subject to the Court’s orders in a divorce.  All separate and community property is subject to division and distribution in a divorce.  As such, it is important to understand what is a spouse’s separate property versus what is the marital community property.  Courts must identify the marriage’s community property and each partner’s separate property in order to understand how to divide the assets upon divorce.  Below we discuss how courts define community and separate property, as well as the complexities involved with defining community and separate property.


Generally, community property constitutes all assets earned or acquired during the marriage while separate property encompasses the assets earned or acquired outside of (or before) the marriage. Common examples of community property include a house purchased together, income deposited into joint bank accounts, and furniture and household goods acquired together.  Property acquired before the marriage (and never used for the benefit of the other spouse) and individual gifts received before the marriage constitute common examples of separate property. As courts work to define which assets are community property and which are separate property, they will consider when and how the asset was acquired and whether the assets were acquired together or separately.

However, circumstances often arise which might make deciphering between community and separate property ambiguous.  This uncertainty over deciphering between community and separate property in a marriage appears frequently in marriage dissolutions, hence the need for competent legal counsel to navigate these issues.

At Beresford Booth, our divorce and family law attorneys hold extensive experience in these matters.  We would be pleased to sit down with you and help you work through your divorce matters.

Beresford Booth PLLC (425.776.4100),

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