family lawyer discussingIn community property states such as Washington, marital property is divided 50/50 between spouses. But that doesn’t happen in all divorce cases. A court may sometimes order a disproportionate division of property, depending on several factors including a spouse’s wrongdoing or need for support.

Need for Future Support

Factors that can help a court assess a spouse’s need for support include:

    • Custody of Children – Custody of minors often affects the division of community property. Your divorce attorney in Lynnwood may argue for more than half of the estate if you’re the legal caretaker of the kids of the marriage.
    • Disparity of Incomes – Gaps between spouses’ incomes and earning capacities may influence the distribution of marital property. Courts may also consider the differences between spouses’ education, future employability, and business opportunities.
    • Size of Estate – Usually, the larger the marital estate, the higher the chance of an equal split. The court, however, may consider the size of each spouse’s separate estate and rule against equal sharing.
    • Age Differences – Huge disparities in ages may justify an unequal division. The court can consider how age may affect a spouse’s health, ability to work, and earning capacity.

Wrongdoing

A divorce in Washington can’t be based on the grounds of marital fault. However, a court may consider a spouse’s wrongdoing when determining property and alimony issues.

    • Marital Fault – One spouse or partner may receive more of the community property if there is adultery, cruelty, abandonment, or felony conviction.
    • Fraud and Waste of Marital Assets – Actual or constructive fraud on the community property may justify an unequal division of assets.
    • Torts – The court may consider a partner’s tortious conduct when dividing the property.

Typically, community property states divide marital property equally rather than in an equitable manner. However, a court can consider certain factors and rule in favor of a disproportionate split of a community estate.