How are the parties’ rights to cars determined in a divorce?

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How are the parties’ rights to cars determined in a divorce?

I am getting divorced. Before I got married Ipurchased my truck and finished paying it off during my marriage. Now my ex wants to take half, can he do that? If so, since he purchased a car before we separated and is still paying off the loan on it, can I get half of that?

Asked on July 13, 2011 under Family Law, California

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Community property is property acquired during marriage.  Separate property is property acquired before marriage or after the marriage ends.

Since your truck was purchased before marriage, it would appear to be your separate property; however, if you used community property funds such as income during marriage to finish paying off the truck, then the truck is community property because the source of the funds determines the designation of the truck as separate or community property.  If you paid off the truck with funds from a separate property account, then the truck is separate property.  If you used part community and part separate property income to pay off the truck, then there is a proportionate interest.  For example, if you paid off the truck with 60% separate property funds and 40% community property funds, then the community is entitled to reimbursement for the proportion of community property funds used to pay off the truck. 

Since your spouse purchased a car prior to separation, the car was acquired during marriage and is community property.

Each spouse has a half interest in community property; however, there can be an agreement to an unequal division of community property.


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