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I discovered a marital vehicle may have been sold/traded while there is a standing order in a divorce proceeding is it contempt?

Worcester, MA |

So I currently have a standing order in a divorce proceeding and I discovered that the vehicle may have been traded/sold while this order is standing. The vehicle was bought WHILE we were married, however it was her father and my spouse on the bank loan. The vehicle was paid for with funds I solely provided during the marriage and I am trying to figure out if this vehicle is considered marital property since it was acquired during the marriage, it was paid for with joint marital funds, however since the vehicles lien was in my spouses and fathers name does this void out the factor of marital property?

I am assuming the vehicle was sold because she recently moved and her commute increased mileage wise, she sold the SUV in order to buy a Sedan - the vehicle had equity in it worth about $5,000.00. She refuses to answer anything I have asked her but discovered this information from my insurance company and RMV records.

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Attorney answers 4

Best Answer

The vehicle is marital property by virtue of your equitable contribution and the fact the title was held in your spouse's name. The automatic restraining order you are reffering to do does not apply to your father in law, but it does apply to your spouse and it applies to you. A complaint for contempt alleding violation of the automatic restraining order could be appropriate if there was equity in the asset.....without knowing why the car was sold, and what replaced it if anything restricts what I can comment on or speculate about.


Rule 411 puts in place an automatic restraining order at the commencement of an action. However there are many exceptions to this rule and as my colleague stated more information would be needed to assess whether you should file a contempt action or merely address this issue at settlement discussions / trial. I wish you all the best.


I agree with my colleagues that this was marital property, that the automatiuc restraining order was violated and that you have grounds for a contempt motion. If your divorce is still pending, however, what would you hope the contempt to accomplish? What would you want the court to order? It would seem to me that your main goal is still the end resolution and that in the end resolution (by agreement or by trial), you can bring this up and have the division of marital assets and equity divided accordingly to account for her appropriation of this asset.

To questioners from West Virginia & New York: Although I am licensed to practice in your state, I practice on a day-to-day basis in Massachusetts. I answer questions in your state in areas of the law in which I practice, and in which I feel comfortable trying to offer you assistance based on my knowledge of specific statutes in your state and/or general principles applicable in all states. It is always best, however, to work with attorneys and court personnel in your own area to deal with specific problems and factual situations.



The vehicle more likely than not would be considered marital property and should be included in the asset values to be divided between your spouse and you. It is possible a judge will credit you with half the value of the equity in the vehicle aqgaionst the husband's share of the assets.1

Steve Coren

This answer does not consitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. The answer is based only on the facts presented. This answer is basd only on Massachusetts law.

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