In some of those states, once the property is "characterized" as separate property, the court loses the power to give it to the other spouse. Other states are like Washington in that the court must characterize the property before making a "just and equitable distribution," but that "just and equitable distribution" can include giving separate property to the other spouse.
These cases can get very complex in the determination of whether property is separate or community, and during the course of those cases clients often learn that they should have (or should not have) gotten a prenuptial agreement, or a property agreement, or they learn many other aspects of the law that lead them to wish they had better prepared for a possible divorce.
At Mason Law, Craig Mason has years of experience with these matters in Spokane County and other Eastern Washington counties. Call Mason Law at 509-443-3681. And for further reading see In re Marriage of Kile & Kendall, 186 Wash. App. 864, 347 P.3d 894 (2015), a case in which a Mr. Mason's appeal reversed the legal errors of a very smart judge -- community property law is simply that tricky to understand.