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The 50/50 Rule: All-inclusive Divorce Guide in Washington State

divorce guide

by | Feb 15, 2023 | Articles, Family Law

When it comes time to make the difficult decision of ending a marriage, navigating the divorce process can be overwhelming. Among the countless laws to consider, the 50/50 rule regarding the division of assets and debts is essential to understand. The State of Washington is no exception. There are countless laws to consider, paperwork to complete, and decisions that must be made during the divorce process. It is essential to understand the state’s  Knowing your rights and obligations under this rule is essential to understanding how your divorce will be handled and the outcome of it.

In this article, we will discuss the 50/50 rule in detail and other aspects of the Washington divorce law. We’ll explain how assets and debts are divided during a divorce and other critical issues on the legal side of divorce in Washington.

What is the 50/50 Rule?



The 50/50 rule is a common law principle that states that all assets and debts acquired during a marriage should be divided equally between spouses. This means that each spouse is entitled to half of the total marital property, regardless of who made more money or had greater financial resources throughout the marriage.

When Does the 50/50 Rule Apply?

The 50/50 rule applies to divorces in Washington State. It does not apply to other states, and it does not apply to marriages that are not legally recognized by the state. In addition, some types of property may be exempt from division under the 50/50 rule, including inheritances, gifts, and personal injury awards.

What Types of Property is Subject to Division?


The 50/50 rule applies to all assets and debts acquired during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the title or account. This includes real estate, retirement accounts, bank accounts, investments, vehicles, furniture, and other marital property. It also includes mortgages, car loans, credit card debt, and other outstanding debts.

What Happens if One Spouse Tries to Hide Assets or Debts?

In Washington State, it is illegal to hide assets or debts to avoid division during a divorce. If one spouse tries to do so, the court can order them to provide financial documentation and order a division of any hidden assets or debts.

Is Washington State a 50/50 Divorce State?

Generally, the answer is yes. Washington State follows the rule of equitable division, which means that all assets and liabilities acquired during the marriage must be divided equitably between both parties. This means that a court will typically divide property and debts on an equal 50/50 basis, though there are certain exceptions to this general rule.

Reasons for the 50/50 Rule

The main justification for the 50/50 rule is fairness. This means couples are expected to split all their assets and liabilities equally, regardless of who earned or accumulated them. This ensures that both spouses are on equal footing during the divorce process and that neither spouse feels entitled to a larger share of the assets or liabilities.

Moreover, the 50/50 rule protects both parties from unfair financial burdens or obligations. For example, if one spouse was the primary breadwinner and earned substantially more income than their partner, they would not be able to claim a larger share of the assets or liabilities just because they made more money.

Exceptions to the 50/50 Rule

Though Washington State’s divorce laws generally follow the 50/50 rule, there are certain exceptions that courts may consider in a divorce action. For example, if one spouse has significantly greater financial resources than the other, the court may adjust its division of assets and debts accordingly.
Additionally, if one spouse had separate property before the marriage or received a substantial inheritance during the marriage, these assets may be excluded from equitable division. Similarly, if one spouse committed financial misconduct, such as using joint funds for personal benefit without permission from their spouse, the court may consider this when dividing property and debts. Furthermore, if one spouse had debts before the marriage, these may be excluded from equitable division. However, a court may still consider this when dividing property and debts if the debt was paid off during the marriage with marital assets.


The 50/50 rule is an important part of the Washington divorce law. Granted, the division of assets and debts can be complex, but understanding the basics of this rule is essential to navigating a successful divorce. If you have any questions or issues regarding how the 50/50 rule applies to your divorce, you can speak with our experienced Washington family law attorney at Cowlitz Law Group, PLLC. We can provide you personalized advice and assistance on how to best proceed with your divorce. Schedule a  free 30-minute consultation today with our attorney.


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By: MarkAdmin

By: MarkAdmin

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