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  1. #1
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    Apr 2011
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    Default Can One Spouse "Take" Property when It is Owned by Both

    My question involves divorce in the State of: California

    I am trying to assist my friend with her divorce and I think I may be on the right track but I want to confirm some things..

    She is divorcing her husband after a short marriage with no real estate/mortgage, with 2 vehicles both still under liens, and pets.

    The divorce should be fairly simple, but the husband (respondent) is not very happy about it all, so I want to answer her questions wisely. Both vehicles are held under liens, and I believe that both of their names are on them. When they initially split they each agreed to take one of the vehicles and she would work on getting her's refinanced into her name only. He is now saying that if she doesn't refinance in a certain period of time then he is going to "take" the car from her so that she can't stop paying on it and screw his credit. I just want to confirm that if the vehicle is in both of their names that one spouse cannot just 'take" it??? If it were in his name alone, then he would be able to take it?

    Second question, how do divorces work with dogs??? The dog was always hers (admitted by both of them throughout the marriage)... but she is concerned about whether or not he can "take" the dog being that the adoption papers were in his name... She has already moved out with the dog... I know it seems silly, but where do pets fall into divorce agreements?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    California
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    540

    Default Re: Can One Spouse "Take" Property when It is Owned by Both

    The two main ways to finalize a divorce in California are to have an uncontested settlement, and to have a contested settlement.

    An uncontested settlement is where both sides sign an agreement saying what each person will get and do. If the court approves the settlement agreement, then each person is responsible to the court to live up to that agreement. If one person does not, the other person can take them to court and ask the court to order something.

    A contested settlement is where both sides argue about some or all of the differences, perhaps work with a court-ordered mediator, and eventually reach a court-approved settlement. Each significant step in the process can cost hundreds of dollars in court costs. If attorneys get involved, that can add thousands of dollars to the cost that neither party will see.

    An uncontested settlement is by far the least expensive and quickest way to get a divorce in California.

    It is very reasonable for him to not want his credit record to be marred by her post-divorce behavior. "Taking" the car, however, is not so reasonable. Ultimately, the real issue is what is in the settlement agreement. A complication is that a lender may not agree to take his name off the loan. Maybe they should both work with the lender on what they could do, with the implied threat that if the lender does not agree to something reasonable then maybe the loan payments would not be able to be made, so that the lender would take the car (and besmirch both his and her credit).

    A technical point: Very likely neither car has a lien. Rather, it is far more likely that the lender legally owns each car, while they are registered owners (responsible for liability).

    As for the dog, it should be whatever the two agree upon. If she is emotionally attached to her dog (as I am to mine) and he is a jerk, he could probably get some concession from her.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    California
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    Default Re: Can One Spouse "Take" Property when It is Owned by Both

    Quote Quoting willsgirl22
    View Post
    I just want to confirm that if the vehicle is in both of their names that one spouse cannot just 'take" it??? If it were in his name alone, then he would be able to take it?
    The problem is that if it is in BOTH of their names, then he CAN potentially take it without there being a crime. She should consider taking him off the registration (and title if they hold the title) if she can ... depends on how the registration is set up - if it is set up for Him "AND" Her, then she won't be able to change it. If it uses the word "OR" then she should be able to get it changed.

    Ultimately a judge will decide on the distribution of assets.

    Second question, how do divorces work with dogs??? The dog was always hers (admitted by both of them throughout the marriage)... but she is concerned about whether or not he can "take" the dog being that the adoption papers were in his name... She has already moved out with the dog... I know it seems silly, but where do pets fall into divorce agreements?
    As with other assets, a judge will decide on the issue.

    If his name is on the adoption papers, then like with the car, he has an argument as to a claim of ownership.

    She should seek court action on a legal separation or divorce as soon as she can.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

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