Throughout the time you are married to someone, you can accumulate quite a few tangible belongings that are shared as marital property. Your vehicles are part of that shared property. When you decide to get a divorce, all the property you have will have to be examined by the court system and properly divided. Here are a few things you should know about how vehicles are handled when you go through the divorce process.
Vehicles owned prior to the marriage are usually not included.
If you had a vehicle in your name and paid for when you entered into the marriage, these will not be considered part of the marital property in most cases. The same thing goes with any vehicles your spouse owned in their name that were paid for prior to the marriage. However, things can get a little more complicated if one of you still owed money on the vehicle when you married and it was paid off during the union. Your spouse may have some entitlement to the car because it can be assumed that they helped you pay for it.
You can request to keep a vehicle that is yours.
If you have a vehicle that is in your name that you rely on to get to work or to take your children to school, you can request to keep the car when you enter into the process of filing for divorce. The judge will often require equal distribution of property (depending on the state), but there can be special considerations if the vehicle in your name is the only one you have to rely on. It is always best if you can come to an agreement with your spouse about who gets what vehicles and why, but if this cannot be worked out, it is best to be able to show a logical reason why you should be able to keep a vehicle.
Your spouse can retain possession of a vehicle and refuse to give it to you.
If your spouse takes a car that is in both of your names before the divorce, there may not be much of anything you can do until the divorce is final. Technically, while the two of you are still married, both of you have a right to use the vehicle. The law probably will not be able to help you retrieve a vehicle; you will have to find a way to come to an agreement until the divorce decree is determined.
For more information, contact a divorce law attorney.