Who Gets The Car In A Divorce?

Who Gets The Car In A Divorce?

by Jan 3, 2018Divorce

Let’s be honest: We Americans love our cars. And, unless you happen to live in a city with really great public transportation, you absolutely need a car to make life happen.

But what happens to the family car (or cars) during a divorce? Because cars are considered property, they are subject to the divorce property laws in your particular state. Since California is a community property state, any vehicles acquired during the marriage are considered owned by both spouses.

If you really love your car, and want to keep it after your divorce, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Exclusive Use

If you’ve had almost exclusive use of a particular car during your marriage, it’s likely a judge will allow you to keep it after your divorce. You’ll need to prove that you’ve been the sole driver during the majority of your marriage, and it helps if you have a compelling reason you want to keep the vehicle, such a commuting to work or transporting children.

It may be more difficult to keep your car if doing so will leave your spouse without transportation, and the judge will need to hear arguments from both sides about whose need is greater and why.

Multiple Vehicles

If you and your spouse own multiple vehicles, there might be a problem if there is a significant disparity in the value of those vehicles. If, for example, you own a new BMW and your spouse drives a ten year old Honda, a judge will need to equalize the amounts due to each spouse.

To keep your new BMW, you will likely need to compensate your spouse for the difference in value between the two cars. This can be done directly or made up during the division of other assets.

Ownership Change

It’s very important to remember to change the title and insurance on your vehicle when transferring ownership in a divorce.

A judgment of divorce is normally sufficient for a state’s motor vehicle commission to transfer the title and issue a new registration. You should also notify your insurance company of the change, so it can issue new insurance cards.


At Vonder Haar Law Offices, we offer every client a free phone consultation to discuss their unique situation and determine how we can help. To arrange a consultation, please fill out the adjacent form or call us at: (707) 529-3200.

We provide representation in California State and Federal Courts. We accept most major credit cards for your convenience.

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