It’s common knowledge that you must divide shared assets in a divorce. However, did you know that debt is also considered an asset? Washington considers financial debts to be divisible in a divorce. You may be liable for any debts your spouse accumulated during the marriage.
Washington is a community property state in divorce proceedings. This means any shared marital property must be split between you and your spouse. If your spouse has an immense amount of debt, you could also be liable. It’s important that you’re aware of how the state of Washington divides debt before moving forward with your divorce.
Divorce Attorney for Debts in Seattle, Washington
Ending a marriage can be a stressful and lengthy process. Gaining debt on top of all of that is even worse. Washington law states any shared debts are also divisible in a divorce. You could be liable for your spouse’s debt if the court allows it.
The attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson are skilled at representing clients in divorce proceedings. We want to help ease the process of divorce as much as possible. Our attorneys can negotiate for you, collect financial records, and do whatever possible to get the settlement you want. Contact us today at (206) 712-2756 to schedule a free consultation.
Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson accepts clients throughout the greater King County area including Bellevue, Kirkland, Issaquah, Redmon, and Seattle. We also represent clients in surrounding counties such as Everett in Snohomish County.
Overview of Division of Debts in Washington
- Possible Debts in a Divorce
- Types of Debt in Washington
- How Debts are Divided in a Divorce
- Temporary Orders
- Additional Resources
Possible Debts in a Divorce
It’s common knowledge that shared property is divided in a divorce. You may be surprised to learn that debts can also be considered marital property. Debts that accumulated during your marriage could be split between you and your spouse.
Listed below are some common debts that are divided in a divorce.
- Car loans;
- Student loans;
- Business loans;
- Credit card debt;
- Medical debt; and
- Unpaid bills such as utility or water payments.
Types of Debt under Washington Law
Community property is any property that was accumulated during the marriage, debt. For example, if you sign a mortgage with your spouse you could still be liable even after divorce. Even if you aren’t living in the house at all you may still be liable for any debt tied to it.
Debts acquired before the marriage are called separate property. It is unusual for separate property to be divided in a divorce. This means loans, bonds, or unpaid bills form before the marriage won’t be distributed in your divorce. However, there are rare instances where a court finds it necessary to make an equitable division.
How Are Debts Divided in Washington?
In Washington, shared assets are distributed in a divorce. Debts are no exception to this rule. The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) § 26.09.080 states all community property must be divided in a “just and equitable” manner. Typically, all assets are split between each spouse. However, in some cases one spouse may get an uneven portion of shared assets.
The courts use the following factors to distribute assets in a divorce.
- The length of the marriage;
- The financial situation for you and your spouse;
- The extent and value of your shared debts;
- The extent and value of your individual debts; and
- If you or your spouse wish to live in the family home and also spends the majority of the time raising any shared children.
Washington is also a no-fault state. This means fault won’t be a factor when distributing assets. Bad behavior by your spouse cannot play a role in property division. However, if your partner intentionally put you into debt it could play a role. For example, it could be a factor if your partner knowingly gambled away your mutual funds into debt or borrowed heavily for noncommunity purposes.
Temporary Orders in a Divorce
If your partner tends to go into debt, it may be a good idea to file a temporary order. A temporary order is simply a court order to establish ground rules for you and your spouse. You can order a temporary order of “restraint” on the disposal of any shared property without court approval.
This temporary order can protect you from any new debts by your partner, but it won’t cover debts that existed during your marriage. However, it will protect you during divorce proceedings. If your partner uses a bunch of credit cards or signs off on a new loan the temporary order will protect you.
Debt Relief and Counseling – Visit the official website for the Attorney General of Washington State and find more information on debt relief. Learn more about debt consolidation programs, debt negotiation programs and cautions about credit repair officers.
Washington Property Division Statue – Visit the official website for Washington State Legislature and find more information about how property is divided in a divorce. Access the statute for property division, learn the language and the factors used in deliberation.
Attorney Explains Debt Divisions in a Divorce in Seattle, Washington
If you or your spouse are seeking a divorce, it’s crucial that you contact an experienced attorney. You could be held liable for debts made in your spouse’s name. It’s vital that you gain trusted legal representation as soon as possible with Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson.
Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson has years of experience in Washington family law courts. Our attorneys ensure that you will always be informed and always have your questions answered in this legal process. Find an attorney you can trust with Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson. Contact us now at (206) 712-2756 for a free consultation.
The attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson represent clients throughout the greater Seattle area including Burien, Tukwila, Redmon and Bellevue.
This article was last udpdated on December 18, 2018.