Who Gets the Family Car During a Washington Divorce

Property division during a divorce can be upsetting, stressful, and even emotionally painful—and this is never more true than with larger pieces of property that could have an effect on your day-to-day life. If you and your spouse share a car, or if you have more than two cars, it can be unclear who receives which vehicles during the divorce settlement. 

While the Washington courts attempt to make property division as fair as possible for those going through divorce, it’s obviously impossible to split a car. When making decisions like who will retain possession of your family vehicle, judges may take the following factors into consideration: 

  • Car payments and repairs. Do both parties contribute to car payments, or did both parties purchase the car together? Who makes repairs to the car and pays for oil changes? Who cleans and cares for the car? 
  • The car title. Is your name on the title and registration, or is it your spouse’s name? Are both names there? Understand that even if only one name appears on the title, the car may very well still be considered common property, especially if the car payments and repairs are made from a joint account. 
  • Commuting. If the car is vital to one spouse’s financial wellbeing, he or she may receive the car in the divorce. If a spouse may lose his or her job if they can’t commute to work, they will probably not have the car taken from them, especially if the other spouse does not use the car for commuting purposes. 
  • Life necessities. There are other important uses for a car other than commuting; a person may need a vehicle to get to the grocery store, to get their kids to school, or to get their children to medical appointments or therapies. These are important considerations when deciding who will keep the family vehicle. 
  • How the car came into the marriage. In most cases, spouses pitch in to buy a car. However, if the car was purchased by one spouse before the marriage, if the car was inherited by one spouse, or if the car was a gift to one spouse, it may not be considered shared marital property. 

Remember: even if you receive the family car in the divorce settlement, you will often have to give up something else in order to keep the settlement fair. For example, if you keep the car, your spouse may be awarded more money in order to purchase a new vehicle. 

Are you concerned about being treated fairly during your divorce settlement? Call the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny today to speak with a Bellevue divorce attorney

Molly B. Kenny
Founder and Principal Divorce Attorney
Molly B. Kenny's Bellevue family law office is conveniently located on Lake Bellevue Drive, making it easily accessible to those in the greater Seattle area. Our divorce and child custody lawyers help men and women get the information, guidance, and compassionate representation they need.
Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny