How to Divide Motor Vehicles in a Divorce

Laura E. Shapiro -

If you and your spouse have collected valuable cars throughout your marriage, it may be difficult to divide them in your divorce.

It is our experience that a property division lawyer can help couples with significant vehicle assets.

Read on to learn more about how to divide motor vehicles in a divorce.

Vintage Car Show

Dividing Everyday Vehicles

If you have only one vehicle, the simplest solution might be to sell the car and divide the profit.

Determining how to divide two or more everyday vehicles is usually simple. In many divorces, each spouse keeps the car that he or she normally drives.

When the vehicle(s) in question is an expensive collectible, however, dividing marital assets can become contentious.

The Process of Dividing Motor Vehicles Depends on If You Are Keeping or Selling Them

As property division and divorce lawyers, Shapiro Family Law understands the deep emotional connection that people have with their collectible cars. We work toward an amicable solution for both parties.

First, both spouses should decide if they want to keep the collectible car(s) or obtain compensation for the monetary value. If you cannot reach an agreement, we can help you get the cars appraised.

Certain Factors Influence a Collectible Car’s Value

An appraiser can supply an exact monetary value for your classic vehicles. Shapiro Family Law has reliable sources for many types of appraisal services, including collectible cars.

Typically, certain factors influence how much your car is worth, such as:

  • Popularity among collectors.
  • Percentage of original equipment versus replacement or rebuilt parts.
  • Condition of exterior and interior.
  • History of ownership (i.e., it can boost a car’s value if it [or a similar model] was owned by a celebrity or public figure).

You Must Figure Out Which Is Separate or Marital Property

If you or your spouse owned a collectible car before you were married, it is not part of a divorce settlement however any increase in value may be.

Separate property can be an inheritance, family heirloom, or real property that belonged to a person prior to marriage. Outside of separate property, you need to take inventory of collectible cars bought while you were married.

Shapiro Family Law suggests making a list that includes:

  • The date the car was purchased
  • The cost of the car at purchase
  • The market value of the car at time of purchase
  • Who bought the car
  • Copies of all related paperwork for both the purchase and subsequent expenses

Dividing or Selling for Value Depends on Both of You

We recommend that clients decide how to divide marital property with each other or in negotiations with their respective lawyers.

To keep as calm and rational a discussion about marital assets as possible, Shapiro Family Law recommends the following:

  • Have a certified expert appraise all collectible cars.
  • Have each spouse list, in writing, which car he or she would prefer to keep or sell.
  • If you are undecided as to keep or sell, there might be other items of similar value to negotiate.

A certified appraiser can offer a detailed valuation that is typically more specific than a standard resource, such as the National Automobile Dealers Association guide.

The value of a collectible car can be worth far more than the average selling price. Our firm knows reputable appraisers who can help you.

It Is Better for You and Your Spouse to Decide and Not the Judge

Sometimes it is not possible for divorcing couples to agree on dividing assets such as collectible cars. If this applies to you, please be aware that Colorado is an equitable distribution state for marital property.

If you and your spouse simply cannot reach an acceptable compromise for your collectible cars, both of you could be even more disappointed by a judge’s ruling.

The Judge’s Ruling Is Absolute

A judge has the authority to distribute the cars or sell them (based on their appraised value) and include the proceeds in the marital estate. Colorado law dictates that parties in a divorce must divide marital property fairly and equitably.

This does not mean equal distribution.

If you or your spouse have a favored automobile that you do not want sold, it is in your best interest to divide these assets before your case goes to court. It is too late to make a deal if the judge has already ruled.

Shapiro Family Law Is Here for You and Your Spouse

If you have questions about how to divide motor vehicles and other valuables in a divorce, please call us at 303-695-0200 to speak with a property division lawyer.

Our lawyers can also help with related issues such as child support and allocation of parental responsibilities.

Laura E. Shapiro

Laura Shapiro is an award-winning Family Law Attorney with 40+ years of experience. Laura practices Family Law exclusively with her primary focus being divorce and child custody matters.

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