Ending a marriage can be messy when it comes to dividing assets, especially vehicles with joint loans and titles.
If your divorce decree awarded you the car, you’ll need help removing the name from the car title after the divorce has been finalized.
Then again, what if your ex refuses to sign the car title?
To help out, I created the article below to guide you through the process of dealing with an ex who isn’t cooperating with the terms of the divorce.
Relevant Articles To Read:
- Two Names On Car Title How To Remove One
- How To Remove Cosigner From Car Title
- Can You Transfer a Car Loan to Someone Else
- My Ex Forged My Signature on a Car Title
Table of Contents
Steps to Transfer a Car Title After Divorce
Follow these main steps to transfer a jointly owned car’s title from your ex’s name into just your name after divorce:
1. Gather Documents
You’ll typically need:
- Original title showing your name – plus ex’s name to remove
- Certified divorce decree copy specifying vehicle awarded to you
- Proof of solo insurance on the car in some states
- Valid photo ID like a driver’s license
Key Details Needed: The decree or title must list the car’s VIN, make, model, and year. If missing, amend the decree first.
2. Visit Your Local DMV
Bring your documents to the DMV to transfer title. Some key notes:
- DMV clerks guide you through state-specific forms and fees ($10-$115 typ.).
- Some states let you submit paperwork by mail instead.
- Expect new title in the mail within 2-6 weeks after processing.
3. Consider Vehicle Loans
- If you had a joint car loan, the lender still views you both as liable even after divorce.
- To protect yourself, consult an attorney to ensure the assigned owner pays on time per the decree terms. Or…
- Refinance the loan into your name only to remove your ex’s liability.
State Specific Examples
- Submit the current Georgia title, a title application form (MV-1), your valid Georgia driver’s license, and a certified copy of the divorce decree to your county tag office.
- There is an $18 name change fee. You can keep the same license plate if you are the remaining owner.
- If there is still a lien, the title must be released by the lienholder before removing the name.
- Fill out a title application form, sign the title as the seller, put your ex as the buyer, and submit to the DMV with the title transfer fee.
- Or submit an Application for Surviving Spouse Transfer (Form HSMV 82152), along with the title and marriage certificate. There is a $10 expedited processing fee.
- Get a certified copy of the divorce decree from court, specifying vehicle details like VIN. Take to DOL vehicle licensing office to transfer title.
- Can also file a Motion to Clarify the divorce decree to add vehicle details if needed.
- Required documents are listed on DOL website for personal and business name changes on titles.
|When Refinancing is Allowed
|Under 10 years old and <100k miles
|At least 1 year into original loan term
|You qualify income-wise solo
|Car holds equity (Loan balance < car value)
This removes your ex from the loan but doesn’t affect needing their name off the title.
What If My Ex Refuses to Sign Over the Title?
When an ex-spouse refuses to sign over the jointly owned car awarded to you in the divorce, several options exist to force the issue legally:
File for contempt of court: You can motion for a contempt order if violating the decree terms. If found in contempt by the judge, penalties aimed to compel signing title over may be ordered, like fines or jail time.
Amend the decree: Ensure the vehicle’s VIN, make, model, and year are clearly listed as awarded to you. This allows bypassing signature.
Bring decree proving award: Some states let you bring just the decree with vehicle details to the DMV for processing the new solo title without the ex’s signature.
Refinance into your name: Taking over loan payments solely in your name can help convince the ex to sign over title since removing liability.
As you can see, legal options exist if an obstinate ex stalls the process. Consulting an attorney helps navigate the specifics in your state.
Tips to Smoothly Remove an Ex from Car Title
Here are a few additional tips for making the car title transfer process after divorce as seamless as possible:
- Immediately sign any title transfer paperwork requested post-divorce. Same for your ex.
- Check the DMV website for your state’s procedures – forms vary by location.
- Call ahead to the DMV and see if an appointment pre-screens documents to expedite the process faster.
- Keep copies of all documents for your records throughout in case issues arise later.
- Transferring title can take 4-8 weeks typically, so be patient waiting for the new title.
- Reach out to a divorce lawyer for advice if hitting snags transferring ownership legally.
Can My Ex-Spouse Keep the Car After Divorce?
Whether your ex keeps the vehicle depends largely on three factors:
- Who’s name is on the title: If it’s only in your spouse’s name, some states still see it as marital property to split. Vehicles owned before marriage usually remain that spouse’s separate asset.
- State property division laws: “Community property” states tend to split assets 50/50. “Equitable distribution” states aim for a fair split based on multiple factors.
- Who mainly drives the car: Judges often award the vehicle to whoever drives it more, especially in equitable distribution states.
So in contested divorces, the court ultimately decides who keeps the car if you can’t agree. Next we’ll explore the title transfer process itself.
My Final Thoughts
While removing an ex-spouse from jointly owned car titles and loans seems complicated up front, this guide has outlined the key steps both cooperatively and if challenging. Treat it like any vehicle sale but with extra divorce decree documentation. If you have further questions, consult a local family attorney for advice.
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