Who Gets the Boat in A Divorce?

Boating is a popular pastime, here in the state of Florida. Families often spend time cruising the intercoastal, while others enjoy fishing in the Atlantic Ocean. Whatever your maritime hobby may be, when a couple decides to divorce, the question of who gets the boat is one often asked.

All marital property is subject to equitable distribution in a divorce which may include a boat that the parties bought together during their marriage. Oftentimes, one spouse will be able to retain the boat while the other spouse receives marital property of comparable value in the divorce. In this case, the boat will first have to be valued or the parties will have to agree on a value so that the other spouse can receive other marital property of comparable value. Otherwise, the boat will be sold and the profits split equally between the parties or the spouse that wishes to retain the boat will have to buy out the other spouse’s interest in the boat.

In the event that one spouse is awarded the boat in the divorce proceedings, that spouse will have to remove their now ex-spouse’s name from the title. This is accomplished by applying for a transfer of ownership with the U.S. Coast Guard where the spouse will have to present the divorce decree along with an application for a certificate of title.

However, if the boat is nonmarital property, meaning that the boat was acquired by one spouse before the marriage, that spouse will likely be able to keep the boat in the event of divorce without having to buy out their soon-to-be ex-spouse or give up marital property of comparable value.

Another situation could be where a boat is used by one spouse in the course of their business that was started during the marriage. If that is the case, the boat may be considered part of the marital estate and therefore, subject to equitable distribution.

However, if the two soon-to-be ex-spouses can agree on their own as to who gets the boat without having to value the boat or get the Court involved this can end up being a cost-effective approach that saves time and money in the long run.

 

About the Author

Tamara Grossman Yaffa Family Law Group
Tamara Grossman is an attorney with eight years of courtroom experience in family law and other legal matters. Ms. Grossman has been a partner in a multistate litigation law firm and, most recently, was an attorney at a Boca Raton family law firm.