For many divorcing couples in the Tri-Cities area, their home is one of the most valuable assets they own. Not just financially, but sentimentally. It might be the first place the couple bought together, the place where they raised their children. Besides being full of equity, the family house is full of memories.
So when it comes time to negotiate a property settlement, many couples are not ready to compromise over the house. The spouses might each want to keep it for themselves. In the fight over the house, one ex might pressure the other to move out. But in Washington State, you do not have to move out of the home just because you are going through divorce.
Divorce and the family home in Washington
Washington is a community property state. Everything that counts as community property belongs to both spouses equally. Usually, this includes the house, especially if you and your ex bought it during your marriage. Whether or not you earned an income or contributed to the mortgage payments and maintenance costs does not matter. In almost every case, each spouse has an equal claim to the house. No matter what your ex says, it’s your house too.
At the same time, you do not have to be afraid to leave. Moving out should not affect your property rights over the house. However, you may lose control of any changes your ex makes to the interior or the surrounding lot. Still, whichever of you is living in the house will not affect who ends up owning the house if one of you does end up keeping it. Alternatively, you might sell the house and split the proceeds.
If you are concerned about what will happen to your home, discussing it with a divorce attorney may help set your mind at ease.