Property acquired during a marriage is presumed to be community property, but Washington property division attorneys know there are exceptions to that rule. Property that one spouse inherits or receives as a gift is presumed to be that spouse’s separate property. A Washington appeals court recently considered whether inherited property in another country became community property when the husband claimed to have paid taxes and bought out other heirs with community funds.
The couple married in 1985 and separated in 2014. The wife had inherited property in Peru that had been in her name since the 1990s. The husband argued he had built it up and bought out the other heirs. He said he had worked for one of the heirs to buy the property. He also argued that he paid $200 per year in property taxes.
The trial court found the property in Peru was the wife’s separate property by inheritance. The husband appealed, arguing the trial court had mischaracterized the property in Peru and therefore divided the property inequitably.