What You Need to Know About Pension Division in Washington Divorces
Each state has its laws about property division between divorcing couples. Here’s what you need to know about how Washington State divides pensions in a divorce.
How will the property be divided during a divorce in Washington?
Each party’s entire property and debts, even those the party has separate from his or her spouse, will be divided and awarded to one party or the other.
The term “property” includes the party’s home and all other real estate, personal belongings, vehicles, funds in your bank accounts or trusts, investments, stock options, retirement benefits, pensions, and business interests.
An attorney can help the parties advocate for the retention of the property of each party and argue for a fair portion of the property. Consult an attorney to understand the difference between community and separate property, as this is a crucial step to understanding asset division.
Related: Washington State Divorce FAQs
What is the division process?
Regardless of whether the parties’ assets are divided through negotiation or in court, the process will likely include:
- Each asset and debt will be categorized as community or separate.
- Each asset will be valued.
- The assets and debts will be divided between the parties. Regardless of whether the parties’ assets are divided through negotiation or in court, the process will likely be similar:
The division of property and debts will affect each party well beyond divorce. Therefore, it is important to be aware of Washington laws since it can be very difficult to modify a property division after the divorce. The parties should obtain advice from a Washington divorce attorney for fair allocations.
How Does The Court Decide How to Divide Property?
Washington law requires that the court’s division of each party’s property is “just and equitable,” meaning that the division is fair. Sometimes, one spouse can receive the other’s separate property. This may mean a bigger property award for a spouse with less ability to earn in the future. Regardless, the court will try to make a “just and equitable” division.
To create a just and equitable division, the court will look at the nature and extent of both the community and separate property, the duration of the marriage, and the economic circumstances of the involved parties once the division is to take effect.
Are pensions subject to the equitable division for divorce in the state of Washington?
Yes. Retirement benefits are community property if earned during the marriage. The other spouse may receive a share of the account. If a spouse earned some of the retirement before marriage or after separation, the court may divide only the portion of the account acquired. In contrast, the marriage was intact and gave the remainder to the spouse, who separately earned those amounts.