In a Washington divorce, a party who claims an asset is separate property must show it qualifies as separate property by clear and convincing evidence. If separate property becomes commingled with community property to the extent it is impossible to distinguish it, then it becomes community property. In a recent case, a husband challenged the trial court’s distribution of property, arguing the certain assets could not be sufficiently traced to retain their separate character.
The parties were married for nearly 32 years when they separated in January 2018. They owned nine rental properties. The wife argued she made the down payments for three of the properties from her inheritance from her father’s death. She claimed she had a traceable separate property interest in those properties.
Her inheritance had been deposited into a joint savings account where community funds had been deposited. The funds in the account were sometimes used for community expenses. The wife testified the account was used infrequently so the inheritance “was kind of kept separate in there.” She testified she had wanted to keep her inheritance as separate property, but was concerned putting it in a separate account would look like she was not trying to work things out after a recent reconciliation.