Shortly after getting married I bought a used car for the family. I made the down payment, have been making the monthly payments, I pay the car insurance too. Everything is in my name from the loan to the insurance. Husband has now left me and has taken the car claiming that it was a gift to him. He is out driving the car while activly using drugs without care that the car and the responsibility of it is all in my name. Who's car is it? Do I have the right to report the car stolen? It makes me sick that he may hurt not only himself but another person while out driving while high.
In Arizona, the car belongs to both of you. Arizona is a community property state, meaning basically, that all things of the marriage are "community." Not only is the car community property if purchased during the marriage, the liability is community as well. That is to say that if he gets into an accident and hurts someone or damages property, or worse, you are just as liable as he is for those damages. It is not likely that law enforcement will take a stolen report since you know who has the car and you are married. You should immediately seek the advice of a qualified family law attorney.
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1. The car is probably community property owned by both spouses. All property acquired during the marriage is presumed to be community property, regardless of the title or who made the payments. The answer may be different if you acquired the car with sole and separate property, e.g. gift or inheritance funds.
2. The community is also liable for the negligent acts of both spouses. Like one of my partners said many years ago, " . . your spouse and your kids are driving around with your checkbook in their pocket." Not only do you have a right, but a duty to make sure that you take control of the car if you know or suspect it might be used to cause injury or damage to someone else. Therefore, I would recommend that you do everything in your power to find and take charge of it, even if that meant asking for law enforcement assistance.
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