The court must distribute the assets in a divorce if the couple does not reach an agreement as to distribution. Certain property may be considered separate property. In Washington, an asset is separate property if it is either acquired before the marriage, acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance, or acquired during the marriage with the traceable proceeds of separate property. If property is acquired during the marriage, it is presumed to be community property. Washington divorce attorneys know, however, that separate property may become community property in certain circumstances.
A Washington appeals court considered whether certain assets were separate or community property in a recent divorce case. The husband appealed the distribution of property.
Both parties had worked and begun funding retirement prior to their marriage. The husband had worked for the same employer for 20 years prior to the marriage, and he contributed to a 401(k) during that time. He continued to work for the company and contribute to the 401(k) for two years after the marriage. The company subsequently merged with another organization, and the husband lost his job.