Our firm represents many clients with complex property valuation and distribution issues. Under Washington State law, the court is required to make a series of determinations before property is distributed between parties to a dissolution or legal separation action.
First, the court must determine whether the claimed interest is "property" as opposed to a mere expectancy. Second, the court must characterize the property as separate or community property. Generally, separate property is property acquired before the marriage, and community property is property acquired by either spouse during the marriage. There are certain circumstances that can result in separate property becoming community property and vice versa. Third, the court must value all of the property and in cases where there are assets such as businesses, professional goodwill, real estate, and retirement benefits, an expert opinion will likely be necessary. Finally, the court must distribute all of the property before it, (community and separate), to achieve a "just and equitable" division.
Trial courts must consider the division of property in conjunction with its decision to award or deny the award of spousal maintenance. The court's paramount concern in the division of property is the economic condition of each of the spouses at the time the decree of dissolution is entered.
I have represented clients in valuing and dividing property, including cases involving moderate to substantial properties. I work with respected professionals in the community who provide forensic evidence regarding the true value and characterization of community and separate property.
I can assist you with the identification, characterization, valuation, and division of the following types of property:
Private retirement benefits, ERISA qualified employee benefit plan, Civil Service Retirement Systems, Washington State Retirement Systems, (PERS I & II, LEOFF I & II), Military Retirement benefits, and Federal Employees Retirement system benefits plans.
Investment accounts and 401(k) plans
Stock options and stock awards
Appraisal of real estate properties
Valuation of professional practices in dentistry, accounting, medicine and law
Valuation of businesses
Appraisal of personal property
Discovery and valuation of hidden assets or property
If you or someone you know is in need of legal advice call or contact us today for a free consultation.