A vehicle is a valuable asset that can be critical to an individual’s professional and day-to-day existence.
However, when a couple divorces, there are no guarantees that the spouse who drove a specific car will maintain ownership of that property.
The JB Martin Law Firm, who specializes in divorce law invites Pennsylvania residents who might be facing divorce or other interested parties to read this short blog highlighting what might become of a vehicle or other pertinent assets following a separation.
Contested Versus Uncontested Divorce
How assets such as vehicles are dispersed following a divorce is often dictated by whether the separation is uncontested or contested.
In instances where couples split and can agree on how to resolve specific personal, legal and financial issues, both parties may reach an amicable separation.
Should the splitting factions determine their divorce in an uncontested fashion, assets such as vehicles will be divided in a manner they deem fair.
Typically, parting spouses wishing to resolve their divorce amicably retain the services of a family lawyer and disclose the issues each side believes requires resolution.
Each party’s attorney then enters the negotiation process, which will continue until the individuals in question reach settlement on all pertinent issues.
In the case of one spouse retaining ownership of a car, said individual’s lawyer might be able to demonstrate their need to maintain use of the car and convince their soon-to-be former spouse to agree to such a provision.
When splitting marriage partners cannot reach an amicable settlement, court intervention might be necessitated and is often determined by several vital legal concepts including the marital property and equitable distribution principles.
In Pennsylvania, assets legally categorized as marital property are divided when a couple divorces. Marital property is defined as the assets a couple accumulated during their marriage.
Marital property differs from separate property, which is considered assets one spouse or the other owned before the wedding.
In certain instances, the separate property could be acquired after the marriage became official such as through inheritance or gifting.
Ownership of a vehicle following a divorce will be determined by whether the asset is recognized as a marital or separate asset.
Should the car in question receive the legal designation of separate property, the spouse who owns, the car in question will maintain ownership of said property.
If the item is considered marital property, it is subject to equitable distribution.
The Equitable Distribution Principle
Pennsylvania law mandates that marital assets be divided in conjunction with the equitable distribution principle.
Equitable distribution means that the adjudicating body will divide matrimonial assets as evenly and reasonably as it feels it is appropriate.
It is important to note that equal does not necessarily mean an even fifty-fifty split.
A judge or jury will consider several different factors including but not limited to the age of both spouses, each spouse’s current financial circumstances, the income of both spouses and the contributions each has made to the accumulation of marital assets.