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What happens to your car in divorce?

Questions of "who gets what" during the divorce process are extremely common. While you're fighting tooth and nail to get everything you're entitled to, your soon-to-be ex-spouse is taking the same approach. This can result in disagreements, negotiations and compromise along the way.

It's important to know what happens to your car in divorce, as this will allow you to plan accordingly. For example, you may rely on your vehicle to get to and from work, so if you don't get to keep it, you'll have to arrange for another form of transportation.

Here are a few common scenarios that could come into play:

  • You're the sole owner of the vehicle: For example, if you brought the vehicle into the marriage and paid for it yourself, you should be able to retain it in divorce. Also, if the car is solely in your name, it belongs to you and you alone.
  • The title has two names: If the title of your vehicle has your name and that of your spouse, it means that you're both an owner. And since the car belongs to both of you, it will require special attention during the property division process.
  • Splitting the car: Unlike some assets, such as bank accounts and cash, you can't physically split a car down the middle and move on. But there are ways to split the vehicle. For instance, you could sell it and both individuals receive half of the proceeds. Or maybe you keep the vehicle, while your ex receives an asset of equal value.

Before you do anything, know what makes the most sense for you. Maybe you'd rather give the vehicle to your ex-spouse, as you don't feel comfortable taking on the payment post-divorce. This will alter your approach.

Your situation is magnified if you have more than one vehicle, regardless of if they're owned by one of you or jointly.

As you prepare for divorce, make note of the following details regarding motor vehicles:

  • How many vehicles you have
  • If one or both of your names is on the title
  • If you owe money on a car loan(s) or own the vehicles outright

By collecting the appropriate information up front, you'll find it easier to protect your legal rights as you begin to discuss the division of assets.

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