WA is a community property state. Therefore it will be useful for you to start thinking in terms of what you as a marital community own, and what your debts are. Your 401(k)? It is half hers. The mortgage? Half hers, also.
The outcome in WA will be "just and equitable" - in other words, probably not 50-50, there may be some variation depending on what works for your family. If the kids are going to stay with her, the Court may well require you to pay enough maintenance that she can make the house payments, in addition to child support.
The Court is going to want her to get out of the house and back to work promptly. The Court may well ask you to pay day care while she's in school, in addition to child support and maintenance.
The Court is highly likely to award each of you half the 401(k), and divide the funds in the checking accounts. The Court will expect you to maintain health insurance, auto insurance and homeowner's at least during the pendency of the action.
The best advice I can give you is that you locate and hire an attorney who only handles family law matters and who has an approach you like. This is not self-help law. The result you get is going to be mostly based on who you hire. I cannot emphasize this enough.
Using Avvo does not form an attorney client relationship.
There are a lot of factors. The general answer is anything that you bought while you were married, with money you made from working, is half yours and half hers. Also any debts that started during the marriage are half/half. That doesn't mean the judge will divide everything 50/50. Under the law, the judge gets to divide things justly and equitable. That could mean giving extra money to your wife so that she can go back to school and support herself after you get divorced. Or something like that. You also only have to go to trial if you don't agree on how to split things up. If you can both agree, you can file the divorce together. Both of you should definitely talk to a lawyer to make sure you understand the law and your rights. Also, child support will have to be paid, depending on who the kids will live with and how much time each parent gets with the kids.
This information is very general and should not be taken as specific legal advice. This answer to this question does not create a lawyer-client relationship.
Normally the court divides the net marital estate equally between the parties. The net estate is the fair market value of all community assets minus the outstanding debts of and loans to the parties. However, the court has the authority to award property disproportionately, and often does so based on the relative financial strength of the parties. Child support is based on relative incomes and the WA State Child Support Schedule Economic Table which is published on line. Spousal maintenance is normally awarded if the parties have a long term marriage (which you do), one party can afford to pay (which you apparently can), and the other party has a need for it (which your wife apparently does). It would be inappropriate to give you detailed specific advice without doing a thorough interview of you and reviewing the relevant financial documents (income statements, bank accounts, credit cards, last annual mortgage statement, retirement, 401(k), valuations for house and vehicles, etc.). I usually spend a couple of hours on this before I feel that I can give an accurate picture of the client's realistic options. It’s always best to consult with a good family law attorney to discuss the details before you act. See my AVVO Legal Guides on divorce, division of assets and debts, child support, and parenting plans for more information about the legal issues raised by your inquiry. Please keep in mind that although these Legal Guides are often informative, they are no substitute for legal advice from an attorney you have retained for consultation or representation. Click on my photo. On my AVVO home page click on "View Contributions" or scroll down further and click on "Legal Guides." Scroll down the list of my 29 Legal Guides and select the topics relevant to your question. If you like my answer and Legal Guides, please make sure you mark them as “helpful” or “best answer”.
This AVVO Answer is provided for general educational purposes only. By using or participating in this site you agree and understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the attorney responding, and no attorney-client confidentiality. The law changes frequently, and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information provided in this Answer is general in nature and may not apply to the factual circumstances described in your question. The applicable law and the appropriate answer may be different in the State or States where the relevant facts occurred. For a definitive answer you should seek legal advice from an attorney who (1) is licensed to practice in the state which has jurisdiction; (2) has experience in the area of law you are asking about, and (3) has been retained as your attorney for representation or consultation. Your question and the attorney’s answer may be used for promotional or educational purposes
Divorce Dividing debts in a divorce Community property in divorce Child support Parenting plans and divorce Alimony Divorce and bankruptcy Bankruptcy Credit Debt Nondischargeable debt and alimony Bankruptcy and debt Divorce and family Family law Domestic relationships Marriage Parenting plan
Sign up to receive a 10-part series of useful information and legal advice about the divorce process.