Unless you live in a city where public transportation is the preferred method of travel, a car provides a reliable way of getting to where you are going. When you are married, you may find yourself with multiple cars, in order for each spouse to get where they need to go. You also may find yourself preferring one car over another, similarly to your spouse.
However, when divorce enters the picture, the car becomes a piece in much larger puzzle, as the lives of you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are analyzed and divided based on a wealth of factors.
This is why you need to have a family law attorney who understands that your unique situation and will fight for your rights, making sure that you are treated fairly during the divorce process.
Because of the gender stereotypes that pervade the family court system, you may find yourself facing outdated stereotypes regarding a man’s ability to recover from the division of assets quicker than a woman’s.
These stereotypes can influence who gets what, and while necessity of specific assets have merit, value of the assets also should play a major role.
Couple of questions
In order to value the car, you have a series of questions that you have to ask, in regards to the state of the car. Is the car fully paid off? What condition is the car in? What will it take to get the car near any estimated evaluation if the car is not in its best possible condition?
Additionally, when each car was purchased may be considered. Was the car purchased before the marriage or during the marriage? If it was purchased during the marriage, was any of the communal funds from the marriage used to purchase the car?
These types of questions deal with many of the elements that surround community property and equitable distribution rules. Depending on your state, you may be subjected to one or the other.
In community property states, both parties are assumed to equally share all income, property, and debts accumulated during the course of the marriage. In equitable distributions states, courts look at a variety of factors in determining what they consider to be a fair and equitable division of all marital properties.
Date of valuation
With specific assets, such as a car, the value of an asset can help the process, which begins with the date of separation. This is different from the date of valuation. The date of separation determines when you stopped functioning as a married couple and began to divide your lives.
The date of valuation is the point in time, in which an asset is assigned a dollar amount. Depending on the state’s regulations, the date of valuation may vary, which is why you will need to rely on your family law attorney to help you navigate the ins and outs of this complicated process.
Dealing with debt
As previously stated, the financing involved in evaluating cars can leave questions. However, the debt on the car and the possession of the car can sometimes be seen as two different dividable entities, depending on the state and case.
Many are under the impression that the title of the car will determine who the asset belongs to, which is incorrect. Couples in the midst of a divorce that wish to keep their vehicle may have to either pay the remaining balance on the rest of their vehicle or vehicles or share in the balance of both debts.
Keeping track of the debt is important. In a community property state, you can be held responsible for debt incurred by your spouse. This includes debt you may not be aware of. Even after the agreement is finalized in the splitting of the debt, your ex-spouse may miss payments, causing your credit rating to go down.
This can be prevented with the use of an indemnity clause, allowing you to take your ex-spouse back to court for any funds that you would have had to pay, as a result of a loan or debt going into default. This is a clause that would have had to exist in your final divorce decree, in order to utilize it.
When it comes the actual valuing of your vehicle, it is important to utilize the appraisal services of a professional that you trust. Insurance companies may attempt to undervalue your car in their assessment of claim that you have with your car, especially if any of the cars in question are custom, classic, late model, or collectible.
An insurance company’s value of the car will not give a full and honest depiction of what the car is actually worth, which is why the professional appraiser will offer a better picture for the courts. However, if both you and your ex-spouse get different professional appraisers, everything can backfire.
If the two professional appraisers cannot agree on a value for the car or cars, the judge can order that the vehicle or vehicles be sold with the proceeds distributed appropriately. This is why it is important that you try and establish a civil dialogue with attorneys present, between you and your ex-spouse.
By communicating with your ex-spouse, you are putting yourself in a better position to move forward. As challenging as it may be, you are prioritizing your future over your hurt feelings and offering yourself the best opportunity to recover
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.