Who is the owner of a vehicle, the titled owner or the party that paid for the vehicle?

UPDATED: Aug 27, 2011

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Who is the owner of a vehicle, the titled owner or the party that paid for the vehicle?

There is no lien on the title. Don’t spouses have to split?

Asked on August 27, 2011 New York


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Guidance on this question is dependent on many things.  First, was the vehicle purchased during the marriage?  With funds that were earned during the marriage?  Then it is considered to be marital property no matter whose name the vehicle is titled in.  The case law in this area is quite clear on that.  Now, once it is determined that the asset is marital property, it is put in the pool, so to speak, with the other marital assets and they are split by a standard known as "equitable distribution."  That means that assets are split "equitably" not necessarily equally.  So who will get the car will depend on who got what else.  It is always better to agree outside of court.  I know that it is hard when going through a divorce.  Good luck.

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