What to do if my husband bought a car for me as a gift using inheritance money ans now he is trying to ask for it back during our divorce?

Last summer my husband bought a car for me for my birthday he funded the purchase with his inheritance money. Since then the gifted car and one other vehicle, in which the remainder of the loan was paid off with my husband’s inheritance money, were both traded in towards one vehicle for myself which is in my name. Now we are separating and preparing for divorce. He is demanding that I return the car claiming it was purchased using his inheritance. He says it doesn’t matter if it was given to me as a gift. Do I have any rights?

Asked on December 15, 2011 under Family Law, Texas


Hong Shen / Roberts Law Group

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I am afraid that he is right. Depends on what your state law says. In California, for example, such inter-spousal gift would transmute a separate property or community property into separate property of another spouse only if it meets three requirements: (1) the value is small, (2) the gift is used exclusively by the donee spouse, and (3) it is a personal gift like jewelry or clothing. You may argue you met the (1) and (2) requirements but it is hard to argue a car is like a piece of jewelry. Since the car was purchased using his inheritance money, it is his personal property and he can get it back. It sounds ugly but it is the reality.

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