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What Happens to Motor Vehicles During a Divorce?

Because cars and other motor vehicles are among the more valuable assets you may own, you’re likely wondering who gets to keep them in a divorce. If you purchased the car yourself before the marriage, then this is a simple matter — the car does not qualify as a marital asset and is not subject to property division.

But what about vehicles purchased with marital funds or that have both spouse’s names on the title?

Making the decision yourself

Most divorces are settled long before they go to a trial, so you’ll likely have a significant say in how the vehicles are divided. If there is more than one car, you and your spouse may tend to drive one vehicle more frequently than the other. This would likely make it a fairly simple decision-making process — you would each take the car you drive most often.

If there is only one vehicle and your case does go to court, you will need to demonstrate why the best outcome would be for you to end up with the vehicle. Evidence might include a need to use it to transport children to and from school and activities or to get to and from work.

If you do get to keep a vehicle that is worth more than is owed on it, you may need to compensate your spouse for a portion of its worth, whether that means giving cash or giving up some other assets of corresponding value in the divorce.

Other issues to keep in mind

It is important to remember that any change in ownership of the vehicle must be reflected in the vehicle’s title and auto insurance policy. Make sure that, after your divorce is complete, you update these documents. You may also need to refinance the loan (if one exists) to put it solely in your name.

For further guidance on what happens to vehicles during a divorce, speak with a skilled Minnesota divorce lawyer at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A.

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