Vehicles are marital assets, just like stock options, homes, and art collections. Therefore, vehicles in divorce are also subject to the property division process. If you and your spouse each have your own vehicle that you drive regularly, then dividing the vehicles can be pretty straightforward. Each spouse will probably retain his or her own vehicle.
But if you have multiple cars, a collection of vehicles, or you own antique collector cars, then the matter becomes more complex.
Some General Guidelines on Automobiles during Divorce
There is a general rule concerning the division of vehicles in a divorce. If the vehicle is in your name and you are in possession of the vehicle, then it belongs to you and you will probably get to retain it during the divorce. Even if the car is not in your name, but you're the one who uses the car the most or it is in your possession, you may keep the car.
But any extra cars like those mentioned above (antiques, collections, etc.) can become part of the community property and are subject to division. In this case, the vehicles are tallied up with the rest of your community assets; that is, property that belongs to you and your spouse or that you acquired during marriage.
There are exceptions to this rule, however. If the car was a gift or if you inherited it, then it is usually your separate property. If you inherited the car but the title of the car was in your ex-spouse’s name, then it may be marital property.
What Will Happen To Our Vehicles During the Divorce Process?
Washington state property division laws require that property division be equitable, not necessarily equal. That is, it doesn’t have to divide assets so that each spouse receives 50 percent of the total value of all assets. A lot can go into property division, so make sure you work closely with your attorney, especially if you have valuable assets like car collections or antique vehicles.
You and your spouse – or a judge – may decide to split a car collection in half, for example. Or you may decide to sell the collection and split the proceeds. In other cases, you may cherish the car collection and your ex may really want to stay in the home – you may decide to retain the collection while your ex gets to stay in the home.
Dividing assets requires some give and take if you wish to reach a settlement to avoid court. So decide what’s most important to you and what you’re willing to give up. But before you make any agreements, let your attorney know. She can help you negotiate a settlement or represent you in court to ensure property division is fair for you.
Call 425-460-0550 reach the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny, or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation.