How Will My Wife’s Car Be Handled In Property Division?

Question:

I was ordered to pay off my ex-wife’s car in the marital settlement agreement. It is apparently a lemon and the dealer is willing to “buy back” the car.

My ex is saying I’m responsible for the loan balance, i.e., she thinks I should have to buy her a new car if we sold her current one.

What do you think her chances are of holding me liable?

Answer:

I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on New Jersey divorce and property laws where I am licensed to practice.

Where I practice, marital settlement agreements are enforceable as long as they are just and equitable. Your settlement agreement with your former spouse is considered a contract that will be honored absent a showing of fraud or other compelling circumstances.

Because marital settlement agreements are consensual and voluntary, courts are inclined to favor their validity and enforceability.

Regarding your particular scenario, you state that you were ordered to pay off your former spouse’s vehicle in the settlement agreement. Generally, it is presumed that the parties knowingly and voluntarily enter into a settlement.

Therefore, a court reviewing your agreement would assume that you voluntarily agreed to undertake the debt associated with your ex-wife’s vehicle even if you did so under protest.

Unfortunately, absent her consent, you cannot unilaterally change the terms of the agreement by selling the vehicle. The fact that the car may be a lemon does not relieve you of your financial obligation under the agreement.

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Marital Settlement Agreements

It is not clear from your inquiry whether you have explored other options with your ex-wife, such as trading in the allegedly defective vehicle for a newer vehicle. Further, your ex-wife may have civil remedies available to her under the Lemon Laws of your state. Additionally, depending on the law in your jurisdiction, you might be able to file a motion to modify the agreement.

However, as stated above, the marital settlement agreement is a contract. Absent a showing that enforcement would be unjust or inequitable, a court will uphold the agreement.

Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with a divorce lawyer in your jurisdiction.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including New Jersey Divorce Lawyer Christine A. Dolan, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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