What rights to doI have to proceeds from the sale of a boat thatI helped to pay for?

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What rights to doI have to proceeds from the sale of a boat thatI helped to pay for?

I was engaged for 5 years. We had joint bank accounts for the last year we were together. We broke up a few months ago but still have a house and some personal property together (that we are trying to get rid of). We purchased a boat and paid for it out of our joint account. I actually have the check for the boat that I signed. I came home today to find that my ex had sold the boat without my permission. He stated that it was his and only his name was on the title. He is refusing to split the proceeds with me. Do I have any legal recourse since I paid for half of the boat?

Asked on April 7, 2011 under Family Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You *might* be able to establish and interest in the boat, if you can show that (1) you paid money for or towards it and (2) the intention was that you would have or get an ownership interest in it. When an engaged couple pays for an item out of their joint bank account, it would be logical or reasonable that it's meant that both should own it, so you may be able to do this. However, recognize that it's still an uphill battle, since--if his name was the only one on the title--the presumption will be that he was the sole owner. (Since  you were not married, there's no division of assets as there would be when a marriage is ended by divorce.) Knowing that there's at least a reasonable chance of losing, you need to balance what you hope to recover vs. the cost of a lawsuit, which is what you'd need to bring to try to get your portion.


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