When a couple parts ways, the belongings will need to be split up as well. After the family home, the couple's vehicles might be one of the most valuable pieces of property. It's only natural to be concerned about something as expensive as your car. After all, most people don't have the luxury of public transportation and need that car to get groceries, take the kids to school and to get to work every day. Read on to learn more about how the law treats this form of personal property when the couple is involved in a divorce.
Community Property or Equitable Distribution
Your vehicle is considered marital property, along with your home, joint bank accounts, retirement accounts and just about everything else. In fact, the only things that are not considered marital property are:
1. Gifts given to one party
2. Property owned prior to the marriage
3. Inheritances before or after the marriage
The way the property is treated by the law depends on whether or not the divorce takes place in a community property or equitable distribution state.
Community Property States
There are only a few states using community property law. This way of looking at the assets of the couple considers the couple to be a "community" and thus all of the property owned by the couple is considered marital property (with the exception of the above 3 categories). Since both parties own the property together, the property tends to be divided more-or-less 50/50. With community property laws, it matters not who bought the car, whose name was on the title, who made the payments or who drove the car the most. Cars cannot be split in half, of course, so often the vehicle is ordered to be sold with the proceeds being distributed equally to both parties. If there are two cars of approximately equal value then each party gets a car.
Equitable Distribution States
Nearly every state uses equitable distribution to determine what comprises marital property and who will leave the marriage with that property. The courts strive for fairness in determining the deposition of things like cars and often the person who holds title will end up awarded with it. In the event of a dispute, the courts may take a look at who used the car the most, who made the payments, whose money was used to buy the car and more. You might say that equitable distribution seeks to be less arbitrary in assigning ownership than community property laws might.
It bears mentioning that contentious issues like marital property can eat up a lot of time and money if left up to the court. If you and your spouse can decide on any issue, from child custody to property divisions, outside of court then you are urged to take that path. To learn more, speak to a divorce attorney.
When my spouse decided to divorce me, I realized that I really needed to work with a professional attorney. I started looking around for great general attorneys who would be willing to take the case, and I was able to find a great team that I felt good about working with. They were intelligent, hard working, and had been in business for years and years. This blog is all about working with an awesome lawyer who can help you to get a fair settlement in court. Check out these blogs for important tips on finding and working with an attorney.