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Can My Wife Take My Collectible Muscle Cars in a Divorce?

Question: My wife and I need to get a divorce. I think she's become mentally unstable because of her drinking and use of cocaine. We live in Alpharetta and I work in Milton. She has a part-time job in Sandy Springs. All of the drinking and drugs have really changed her. She was a cheerleader at Ole Miss and wanted to become a teacher and help underprivileged immigrant kids with learning disabilities. When we moved to Georgia a few years ago she fell in with a crowd that plays tennis, gossips and drinks heavily and snorts cocaine. I told her I didn't approve and I was worried how it might affect our 5 kids.

We have a lot of details to work out for the divorce. And I was going to call you about child support, custody and how to divide our assets. But I'm really concerned that she might take the three collectible cars that my father gave me. He gave me a 1967 Corvette Sting Ray, a 1969 Mustang Boss 429 Fastback and a 1966 Pontiac GTO. He was a big muscle car collector and he thought that I would like a few classic cars for my birthday. Since he gave them to me a few years ago my wife hasn't really even looked at them and she says that her new Honda Civic is a better car than they are because they are so old. She says their air condition and radio are terrible and that they smell funny. I don't want her to get the cars in the divorce. Can she get my muscle cars?

Answer: Those really are “classic” examples of American muscle. They are certainly valuable assets. Indeed, American muscle cars have obtained high valuations at car auctions and are regularly featured in the media, including in publications like The New York Times.

If they were a gift to you specifically and the cars are titled in your name and she did nothing to increase their value (like paying to have the engine or transmission rebuilt, for example) and she has shown really no interest in them (and in fact wanted nothing to do with them), then there is a good chance they will not be considered marital property. A court will also look at how long you have had the automobiles and the duration of the marriage. You mention that you have had the cars for only “a few years.” They could be considered as a gift to you by your father once all aspects of the situation are thoroughly examined.

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