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Take posession of car before divorce?

Dallas, TX |

Can I take full posession of my car which I bought before I got married (a year ago) in tx ? My wife drives the car now and I dont have the car anymore and we do not live together. The car is solely under my name and I make all the payments. I am in the process of filing for a divorce and I need this car as its the only mode of commute left for me.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Yes, you can. Your car is what is called your sole and separate property because it is titled under your name alone (hers is not on it) and you have been the only person contributing assets toward full ownership of the vehicle. Presuming you still have a key/remote access, go ahead and recover the vehicle (peacefully, please). You may want to have a police officer accompany you for a civil standby in case she tries to stir up trouble or claim you "trespassed" on her property (the land or the vehicle).

    This post should not be construed as formal legal advice or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.<br /> <a href="http://www.joanbundy.com" target="_blank">www.joanbundy.com</a>


  2. Whether the car is your separate property is an issue to be determined by the trier of fact (judge or jury, if you have one). You say it's separate property but it is presumed to be community property unless you can prove by clear and convincing evidence otherwise. Satisfying that standard as to a piece of titled property is easy--just show when title was issued. But technically, at this time, it is alleged separate property. Those payments you have been making, if made from community funds, may have created a reimbursement claim by the community estate against your separate property estate, if the car is found to be your separate property (which it probably will be).

    Moreover the Dallas County Standing Order, which becomes enforceable against the petitioner when the divorce petition is filed and against the respondent when the respondent is served, prohibits you from doing much with property without the agreement of the other party or a court order.

    If you have NOT filed for divorce yet, you can take the car if you can do so without disturbing the peace. If you HAVE filed already, then ask the court for a temporary orders hearing at which you ask the court to award you exclusive use and possession of the car during the pendancy of the matter.

    You should consult with a local family law attorney to get a solid understanding of your rights and obligations in divorce in general and as they relate to the character of property in particular. A short-term marriage such as yours will frequently have a lot of property characterization and reimbursement claim issues to be resolved--some of which may be more expensive to resolve than they are worth, but which, taken together, may be of significant importance.

    Good luck!!


  3. If you have not filed yet, you can take the car if it won't involve the cops or breaking the peace... if you have filed, then the standing orders prevent the taking of property like this...

    Before the divorce is over, you will have a chance to prove the car is yours and what, if anything, was paid during the marriage and needs to be split between you and your wife.

    This answer is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice nor forming the attorney client relationship. This attorney is licensed in Texas.

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