In the state of Illinois, the division of property between divorcing spouses includes any cars owned by the couple. How vehicles are divided is determined along with other property and assets during the divorce process. Many couples are able to work together to reach an agreement on how to divide assets, but if a settlement cannot be reached through negotiation, mediation, or collaborative law, the distribution of property between the spouses will be determined in court during a trial.
When deciding who will get which marital assets, the court will consider what is “equitable” rather than what is “equal.” This distinction, which is specific to Illinois and many other states, will be discussed further in our next blog post. Regarding cars in general, there are some guidelines to follow when dividing this type of property.
Cars: Separate Property or Marital Property?
Before anything else, it must be determined if the vehicle being discussed is separate property or marital property. Separate property is usually any of the following:
Property or other assets obtained prior to the marriage
Property or other assets inherited before or after the marriage
A gift from a relative or other third party
Unrelated court judgments, such as workers’ compensation settlements or personal injury cases
Marital property includes all property or other assets acquired by either spouse during the marriage. If the car in question is considered separate property, then it remains with the spouse who has owned it all along. If, however, the car is marital property, it will need to be divided equitably, even if it is only titled to one spouse.
What Is Considered Equitable With Division of Vehicles?
When cars are considered marital property in Illinois, those vehicles must be divided equitably between spouses. This can be done in many ways. In some cases, it could be equitable to sell a car and split the proceeds evenly, or a vehicle may be awarded to one spouse while the other party receives other marital property of similar value.
In many marriages, each spouse has a vehicle that he or she primarily uses. The simplest way to determine ownership of these vehicles would be to allow each party to keep his or her vehicle, and he or she will be responsible for any remaining auto loans on that vehicle. However, this may not be equitable if one vehicle is worth more than the other or if a higher amount is owed on one vehicle. When determining how to equitably divide a car’s value, a variety of factors may be considered, including:
The amount of financial contributions each spouse made to a car’s purchase
The likelihood that one spouse might be able to purchase another vehicle anytime soon
The need for the car based on each spouse’s employment circumstances
The need for the car depending on child custody decisions and the transportation needs of the parent and child
Contact a DuPage County Property Division Lawyer
There are many things to consider when dividing the value of a car in a divorce, and it is not always a simple decision. Usually, there are many nuanced details that are involved in dividing vehicles along with other marital property. That is why you need a Wheaton asset division attorney who knows and understands Illinois law and can advise you on how to achieve a settlement that meets your needs. Call our office at 630-871-1002 to discuss this and other divorce-related topics in your free consultation.