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How are stocks acquired before marriage, spent during marriage divided?

Seattle, WA |

My soon-to-be-ex wife is claiming that I give all of her $80,000 of stocks back, she had this amount before we got married and sold during our marriage. I had about $60,000 at that time. Currently, I have about $100,000 and she has $70,000. What the fair distribution of these assets?

Attorney Answers 2


  1. It sounds easy to come up with a disposition of property. In reality, when all the evidence is admitted at trial, its reasonable to expect that 10 different judges in the King County County Superior could come up with 10 different solutions.

    The statute gives the judge complete discretion. RCW 26.09.080 provides as follows:

    Disposition of property and liabilities – Factors.
    In a proceeding for dissolution of the marriage or domestic partnership, legal separation, declaration of invalidity, or in a proceeding for disposition of property following dissolution of the marriage or the domestic partnership by a court which lacked personal jurisdiction over the absent spouse or absent domestic partner or lacked jurisdiction to dispose of the property, the court shall, without regard to misconduct, make such disposition of the property and the liabilities of the parties, either community or separate, as shall appear just and equitable after considering all relevant factors including, but not limited to:
    (1) The nature and extent of the community property;
    (2) The nature and extent of the separate property;
    (3) The duration of the marriage or domestic partnership; and
    (4) The economic circumstances of each spouse or domestic partner at the time the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to a spouse or domestic partner with whom the children reside the majority of the time.

    You can't get a reliable legal opinion in this forum to answer your questions. You need to schedule a brief paid 1 hour consult with a good family law attorney, who will review the facts and issues. Only then can you get good advice on your realistic options. You may contact me and I will be happy to discuss the issue with you right away.

    LEGAL DISCLAIMER Mr. Pierce is licensed to practice law in Washing with an office in Seattle and services clients in all parts of Washington. He can be reached at 206-587-3757 or at the email address at piercefamilylaw.com Mr. Pierce is ethically required to state that the response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/ client relationship. Also, there are no recognized legal specialties under Washington law. This response is only in the form of legal education and is intended to only provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that if known could significantly change the reply or make such reply unsuitable. Mr. Pierce strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to ensure proper advice is received.


  2. Generally, you can't divide what's gone. If $80k of separate property was used for a down payment on a house, then there would be a claim for the first $80k off the top. But if the stock was liquidated to take trips, pay down credit cards, living expenses, etc., then it's gone and can't be compensated. So the question is, "where's the money?"

    Doug Becker

    By asking your question on AVVO you agree and understand there is no attorney-client relationship established, no attorney-client confidentiality and no duty to provide additional responses. Any response is limited to and depends upon the accuracy of the facts provided in the question. To the extent different facts exist, the response could easily change. Responses carry no warranty of any kind and should not be relied upon as legal advice; they are only opinion. All responses are based on Washington law.

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