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Women and divorce: Property division facts in Washington state

In some instances, even separate property can be counted as marital property.
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    January 08, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- When a couple in Portland decides to separate and go their own way, it becomes necessary for them to divide up their marital property. Due to the number of assets, funds, accounts and other items of value, property division can be quite complex, even in Washington state, which uses the community property rule. Therefore, it is important for women to understand what the facts are when it comes to understanding marital property and the valuation of it.

What is marital property?

Many people already have a general idea of what fits under marital property like the family home, vacation home, furnishings in the home, bank accounts under both spouses' names and gifts. However, Forbes states that there are many other items which can also be considered marital property by the courts and these items include works of art, retirement plans, life insurance policies, professional licenses, stocks, bonds, investments, country club memberships, bonuses and even tax returns.

In some instances, even separate property can be counted as marital property. For example, if a spouse bought a piece of property before the wedding but then added the other spouse's name to the deed or title, than that spouse can lay equal claim to it as marital property.

Assembling a complete list of marital property

In a divorce, it is important for each spouse to compile his or her own separate list of the marital property. Women sometimes will put their trust in their spouse only to find out later that the spouse hid marital property and funds from them. However there are behaviors that can raise the alarm that a spouse may be trying to hide money or other valuables. These behaviors include:
- A separate post office box for financial correspondence.
- Sudden failure or loss of accounting programs and data.
- Refusal to give passwords and information relating to bank accounts.
- Controls all of the finances and will not provide other spouse with information.
- Trying to get a spouse to sign legal documents without letting the spouse read them.

In order for women to make sure that they have a complete inventory of marital property, they should have their own team of financial advisors and an accountant who can investigate potential fraud.

Valuation dates

Marital property that is subject to division should be properly valuated and for that, women need to understand how a valuation date works. Forbes explains that the couple or a judge may decide on a date for valuation purposes and this means that every item of marital property is assigned the value it is worth on that specific date.

There is no guarantee whether a valuation date will be a disadvantage or an advantage to the spouse. Some property, such as stocks and real estate, could easily go up or down in the following days after the valuation, while other property, like art works and accounts, may remain the same. Once a valuation date is decided, however, it cannot be moved.

The best way that women can make sure that they are receiving a fair division of the marital property is to meet with an experienced attorney for information.

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