Can my wife take my car if it is in my name? 20 Answers as of June 24, 2011

We are getting a divorce. Can she take my car that I had before we even met? She left with the car in January. Now she says that she's not going to return it. Her name is on the insurance, but the title and registration is in my name only.

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Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
It sounds like it has become a part of the marital estate. It will be up to the divorce judge who will consider the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage in deciding how to divide the marital estate. Stay well.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 6/24/2011
Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
It sounds like your car is your separate property. Your wife shouldn't have taken your separate property. However, if that was the car that she used during the marriage (i.e., if you had another car which you use), it is likely that the Court wouldn't order that she give that car back to you during the divorce. You can file an Order to Show Cause for orders requiring her to return the car to you, but I can't predict how the Court will rule.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/21/2011
Glenn E. Tanner
Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
I'm not sure what the real question is. If the question is whether at the end of the divorce will she be awarded the car that is in your name, the answer depends on what the court finds to be a fair and equitable division of your assets and debts. I don't know what the police would do right now if you reported your car stolen. You could file for divorce and seek a temporary order putting the car in your control until the divorce was finalized. The car appears to be your separate property but how is anyone to know that's the case until you establish that's true. Go to court, and establish it. But, I'd start with a free call to the police and see if they will arrest her for theft. Good luck.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 6/15/2011
Fredric H. Aaron, Attorney at Law, P.C.
Fredric H. Aaron, Attorney at Law, P.C. | Fredric Harlan Aaron
Any property which you owned prior to the marriage is your sole property. The only exception would be if you took any action to make this property part of the marital estate (such as if your wife sold her car and used the proceeds of such sale to pay for a loan on your car).
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 6/15/2011
Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A.
Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A. | Joanna Mitchell
If the car was paid for prior to the marriage, then it is a non-marital asset and would remain yours. If the car was not paid for, it is either totally or partially a marital asset that is subject to equitable distribution in the divorce (which means it may only be partially hers). However, the police will not assist you either way because you are married, and they will say that it is a civil matter and to hire an attorney. My office offers free initial telephone consultations if you would like to discuss this matter in more detail, as well as explore the potential rights and options available regarding your potential divorce. If you would like to coordinate a free initial telephone consultation, please contact my office.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 6/15/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    You should seek help from an experienced divorce lawyer about your rights and options, as to the car and all other issues in your divorce. Simply because she took it does not mean she necessarily will keep it. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/15/2011
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    No, she cannot keep the car. Hire a good matrimonial attorney and have him/her go after the car through the courts. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/15/2011
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni | Jay W. Neff
    Have there been any temporary orders entered by the court in your case? In a divorce, the court may give someone the temporary use of an item of property without regard to who is ultimately going to be awarded that piece of property. In terms of the final disposition of property at trial or settlement, that question depends upon what other property is there and how it is to be divided. In general, in Washington, all of the property, for separate and community is before the court. That means that the court has the power to award your spouse your separate property car if the court thinks that is the right thing to do. However, if there is enough community property for the court to reach what it regards as a fair division of property using just community property, it will usually do that. This means that you would get your separate property, your spouse would get her separate property, and the community property would be divided. If there is not enough community property, however, the court could award some of your separate property to your spouse or some of your spouse's separate property to you.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/14/2011
    Seattle Divorce Services
    Seattle Divorce Services | Michael V. Fancher
    You might need to bring a motion for an order requiring her to return the car. If she still refuses, it may be best to take other assets in lieu of the car.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/14/2011
    Vermeulen Law office P.A.
    Vermeulen Law office P.A. | Jacob T. Erickson
    You need an order from the Court determining that the car is your non-marital property. If you are not able to prove that the car is your non-marital property, then the Court can award the car to you or her.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 6/14/2011
    Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler
    Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler | Robert L Fiedler
    Depending on a number of different factors, it is possible for her to get that car. You should really consult with an attorney and provide all relevant information if you want a more concrete answer.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 6/14/2011
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC | Vincent J. Bernabei
    It is possible that the divorce court could award her the car. The court has full authority to award any property to either party. The overriding considering is whether it is just and proper (or equitable) to do so. If you owned the car outright before the marriage, the car is not a marital asset, but the court still has the power to award it to her.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/14/2011
    Arnold & Wadsworth
    Arnold & Wadsworth | Brian Arnold
    You need to file for the divorce and get temporary orders giving you control of your car. Until then it might be considered marital property.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 6/14/2011
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    Given the very limited info in your question, the answer is that "no." Sounds like the car is your separate property. Thus, if she is driving it without your consent, she is in unlawful possession. You have several remedial options, depending on how much dirt you want to kick up. Call a local family law lawyer to develop a plan of action.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/14/2011
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    Take this question to your divorce attorney. She should be able to file a motion for return of the car as it is a pre-marital asset. Unless of course you have at least one car you are driving and this car is your soon-to-be ex's only mode of transportation.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 6/14/2011
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    It sounds like it is your separate property, so it will need to be returned to you at some point. She may be entitled to hold onto it for now if there is no other vehicle available at this time. If you are in my area and are looking for an attorney, please contact me for a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/14/2011
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    Under Georgia law, if you owned the car before the marriage and it has remained titled and registered in your name alone, it should be considered your separate property and she wouldn't have a viable claim to it.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/14/2011
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