Justia Lawyer Rating
Top One
Avvo Rating 10.0 Top Attorney
Lead Counsel Rating
The National Trial Lawyers
The Avvo Clients' Choice Awards
Expertise - Seattle
The National Advocates
10 Best American Institute of Family Law Attorneys 2016
Client Champion badge
Expertise - Tacoma
Expertise - Olympia
Client Champion Platinum 2021
Best of the Best Attorneys 2023 - Divorce Law Firm
Expertise Best Bankruptcy Attorneys in Everett 2021
Top 10 Family Law
Best of the Best Attorneys 2023 - Family Law Firm
Best of South Sound
American Association of Attorney Advocates - Divorce
American Association of Attorney Advocates - Family Law
2024 Judicial Edition
mylegalwin 2023 Distinguished Attorney
mylegalwin 2024 Distinguished Attorney
mylegalwin 2023 Featured Attorney
mylegalwin 2024 Featured Attorney

Renton Property Division

King County Property Division Attorney Protects Your Assets

Going through a divorce is challenging enough without losing your valuable assets. Fortunately, Washington state law has very fair rules about property division following a divorce. Our Renton family law attorneys can help you understand these regulations and how they apply to your unique circumstances. We’ll review your financial situation and help you understand how your property could be divided.

When you hire us, we will work with you through every step, handling all the paperwork and complex legal rules. We’re always available to answer your questions and will fight to ensure a great outcome for your case.

Our Attorneys Explain Everything You Need To Know About Property Division In Washington

Property division during a divorce in Washington follows specific legal principles. Here's a general overview of what you need to know about it:

1. Washington Is A Community Property State

Washington is one of the few US states operating under the community property principle. Courts consider any property acquired by either spouse during the marriage community property, dividing them equally upon divorce. However, equal division does not always mean a 50/50 split; it means a fair and equitable division based on the circumstances.

2. The Concept Of Separate Property Under Washington State Law

Under Washington law, separate property refers to assets owned by one spouse before the marriage. It may also be acquired by one spouse during the marriage as a gift, inheritance, or personal injury award. Typically, separate property is not subject to property division during divorce, usually staying with the original owner. However, an increase in the value of separate property during the marriage can be considered community property.

3. How The Law Sees Debts

Like assets, debts incurred during the marriage are usually considered community obligations and divided between spouses. On the other hand, debts incurred before the marriage typically remain the responsibility of the individual who incurred them.

4. The Legal Division Of Retirement Benefits In Washington

Community property also covers retirement benefits accrued during the marriage. Dividing these benefits can be complex and often requires specific legal procedures to ensure an equitable distribution.

5. How The Law Considers Business Interests During Divorce

If either spouse owns a business or a share of a company that grew or was established during the marriage, it may be considered community property and subject to division. The valuation, ownership, and division of business interests are complex and may require expert appraisal.

Spouses can agree on property division matters through a settlement agreement, which attorneys then present to the court for approval. Such arrangements allow for flexibility and can consider the marriage's unique circumstances because each case is different.

Due to the complexity of property division and the potential for significant financial impact, it is always advisable to seek legal counsel. A Renton property division attorney can provide guidance tailored to the specific circumstances of your case and work for a fair division of property, assets, and debts.

How King County Courts Divide Property

King County family courts seek a fair and equitable division of debts and assets when dividing property during a divorce. The process involves several key steps:

  1. The first step is identifying all the assets and debts the couple has accumulated, from real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, furniture, and personal belongings to credit card debts, loans, and mortgages.
  2. Once identified, each item must be classified as either:
    • Community property
    • Separate property
  3. The court will assign a monetary value to all community and separate property. Real estate, businesses, and valuable personal property appraisals may be required in the process.
  4. The court will consider the economic situation of each spouse, assessing each person's current income, future earning potential, and financial needs.
  5. While the court aims for a fair and equitable distribution of community property and debts, this doesn't necessarily mean a 50/50 split but rather what is fair. Factors considered include:
    • the length of the marriage;
    • each spouse's financial situation;
    • whether one spouse made significant career sacrifices for the other's career or the family;
    • the effort each spouse put into acquiring the community property; and
    • the desirability of awarding the family home, or the right to live in it, to the parent with whom the children live most of the time.
  6. Similar to assets acquired during the marriage, the court will also divide debts acquired during the marriage. As part of the property division process, it allocates responsibility for paying these debts, although some debts may be considered separate.
  7. Retirement and pension benefits accrued during the marriage are also divided, which is documented with a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). This directs the plan administrator on how to distribute the benefits.
  8. If one spouse claims that certain assets are separate property, they must provide evidence to support this claim, which the court will consider before deciding.
  9. Once the court has decided on the division of property and debts, its decision becomes official through a court order. This legally binding document specifies who receives what property, who is responsible for what debts, and how retirement accounts are divided.

While the court's decisions on property division are generally final, spouses can modify the division of certain assets post-divorce if both parties consent to the changes.

Legal principles guide property division in King County. Still, they also involve a degree of judicial discretion to ensure that the division of property is equitable based on the unique circumstances of each case. Given the complexity of property division in Washington State divorces, consulting with a knowledgeable property division law attorney is often crucial to navigating the process smoothly.

How To Choose The Right Property Division Attorney For Your Renton Divorce

Navigating the complexities of Washington law during property division proceedings can be daunting. To protect your rights and interests, selecting an expert family law attorney is crucial. Here are some tips to help you choose a capable and reliable lawyer:

1. Specialization In Washington Property Division Law

Look for an attorney specializing in property division or whose practice is significantly dedicated to it. Expertise in Washington property division law ensures your attorney is up-to-date with the latest Renton laws, King County Court procedures, and strategies related to spousal property division.

2. Experience And A Good Reputation

Consider the attorney's experience, particularly with cases like yours. Experienced property division lawyers are more likely to understand the nuances of Washington law and have a track record you can review. Research their reputation among peers and clients.

Online reviews, attorney rating services, and personal recommendations provide insights into an attorney's professionalism and effectiveness. Moreover, you can verify their credentials by checking with the Washington State Bar Association.

3. Schedule Initial Consultations

Many Renton property division attorneys offer a low-cost or free initial consultation. Use this opportunity to assess their demeanor, expertise, and approach. Ask about their experience with King County cases similar to yours and their proposed strategy for your situation.

4. Assess Communication Skills

Your property division attorney should be a good communicator, both with you and the court. They should be able to explain complex Washington legal concepts in understandable terms and keep you informed about the progress of your case.

5. Look For Availability In Renton

Ensure the property division attorney has time for your case. An accessible legal professional should be responsive to your calls, emails, or concerns. Therefore, it's best to work with someone local to Renton.

6. Understand Their Cost And Billing Practices

Ask how the attorney bills for their services. Inquire about their hourly rate, retainer fee, and any additional costs you can expect. It's essential to understand the financial aspect to avoid surprises.

7. Gauge How Comfortable You Are With The Attorney

Building a strong lawyer-client relationship requires trust, confidence, and rapport. This is why your attorney must make you feel comfortable sharing personal and sensitive information with your attorney.

8. Ask About Their Negotiation And Litigation Skills

To secure the best possible property division agreement without needing a trial, your attorney should be skilled in negotiation. However, if going to court becomes necessary, they should also have strong litigation skills to represent you effectively.

9. Understand Their Strategic Thinking

Look for an attorney who approaches your case with strategic thinking, considering both the short- and long-term implications of decisions related to spousal property division.

10. Choose An Attorney With A Broad Professional Network

An attorney with a strong network of financial experts, counselors, and other professionals can provide additional resources and support for your case.

If you're looking for the best attorneys in Renton to handle your property division case, count on our legal team. With decades of experience representing Renton clients before King County family courts, we know the ins and outs of our local legal system.

We'll protect your financial interests and ensure you get what is fair under Washington law.

Client Reviews
Laurie has worked on my very challenging and contentious divorce and I could not have asked for a better family law attorney. She was able to handle all of the twists and turns of my case with ease. I highly recommend Laurie to anyone looking for an excellent, ethical and hard working counselor. Chandler
Laurie is an incredible divorce lawyer! She did an amazing job with my divorce, and it was a real dog fight the whole way. She is a true fighter. And you can tell that she really cares about her family law clients and the results that she achieves for them. John
My lawyer guided me through a very challenging time in my life when I was going through my divorce. She worked hard and explained every step of the way what was going on so I could understand the process. I was very happy with her work. Barbel