In community property states, of which Washington is one,
the marriage owns all the labor of both persons during the life of the
marriage, and everything purchased by the proceeds of this labor belongs to the
marriage, unless otherwise gifted or contracted away.
And when the court turns to “characterizing” property as
separate or community property, the court looks to the “source of funds” with
which the property was purchased.In
short, if you cannot “trace” a separate property source for the purchase, then
the purchase is presumed to be made with community funds, and the asset is
presumed to be community property. “Title” (whose name it is in) does not
Of course, there are exceptions and complexities, for
example, if you can claim that when something was titled in your name it was
meant to be separate property as a gift, or part of an enforceable property
agreement between you and your spouse, then title is evidence of that
agreement.Or if an inherited house,
that would normally be separate property, is titled in both spouses’ names,
that can be evidence that the intention was to gift the property to the
community, by the deceased or by the inheriting spouse.
This little sample is not legal advice.It is simply a reminder to seek legal counsel
in the face of very complex legal rules.For help understanding these complexities in the laws of Washington
State, call Mason Law in Spokane at (509) 443-3681.