Vehicle Custody: Hanging On to Your Car

When you’re making up your wish list for assets in your divorce settlement, chances are a vehicle will be somewhere near the top.

Regardless of whose name is on the title, if the car was purchased during your marriage, it falls within the definition of marital property, and is subject to the Equitable Distribution Laws of New York. If you and your future ex disagree on who should get the car, a few points may help to strengthen your case:

  • Were you the primary user of the car when you were together? If so, document this as much as possible – perhaps with gas receipts or a log showing your usage for a week vs. that of your spouse.
  • Do you need the car to get to work? If your job location or hours make public transportation unfeasible, you can make the case that losing the car would endanger your employment status.
  • Are you the primary caregiver for the children? If so, you can note the need to transport them to school, lessons, practices, etc. – not to mention the unforeseen emergencies that always seem to crop up in parenting.

Of course, dividing your marital property also means dividing your debts. If both of your names are on the car loan, be prepared to have it paid off along with other joint obligations – or refinance it in your name alone if possible. If your ex’s name is on the title you’ll want that addressed as well, so you can transfer it free and clear in the future.

For questions about property division in divorce, contact an experienced divorce attorney.

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