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Who Gets the House In a Divorce? - Katrina S. Zafiro

Who Gets the House In a Divorce?

It may be relatively easy to divide personal/movable property (like cash, jewelry, vehicles, financial accounts, etc.), in a divorce, but dividing a real estate/immovable property like your house can be complicated. 

Who gets what in a divorce depends upon whether the property is community property or separate property.  Community property is the property that belongs to both, the husband and wife. In Washington state any property acquired during the marriage is presumed to be community property.  If a spouse claims that a property is his/her separate property, he/she needs to prove that it is his/her separate property and not community property.  (See our Blog – Community Property: Yours vs Ours)

Dividing your house in a divorce can be challenging, both legally and emotionally. When determining whether the house is separate or community, we need to look at several factors like the date when it was purchased, the source of the down payment, and mortgage payments. 

Just having your name on the deed/title does not necessarily mean that the house is your separate property. In the same way, not having your name on the deed or title does not necessarily mean you do not have a legal interest or right in the house. 

But what happens if during your marriage you signed a quitclaim deed and transferred your interest in the house to your spouse?  Well, the critical question would be whether you intended to change the house from community to separate property. Intention can be established in many ways, like whether the person understood the document he/she was signing.  The name on a deed alone does not determine whether the house is community or separate property. 

If you used a mortgage to acquire the house, the mortgage is a community debt and both spouses are responsible for the mortgage. Even if you used your separate funds to make the down payment on your house, having a community mortgage on the house makes your house a community property. In some cases however, a spouse may be able to argue that it is still his/her separate property if he/she can prove that the mortgage payments were made from his/her separate funds. We can help you navigate through this tricky, yet crucial path. 

Whether your house is a community or separate property is a mixed question of fact and law. The outcome of every divorce is different and depends on the unique facts of your case. At Zafiro Law we understand your individual case and help you get the best outcome for your case. Contact us today to set up a consultation.

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Zafiro Law

As an attorney, I am passionate about helping my clients achieve peace of mind in navigating the complex areas of family law and immigration law. Your case will get my full and dedicated attention—whether you are seeking to navigate the complexities of your family law matter or overcome the challenges of your immigration law case.

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