Q: For my wife’s birthday this year I bought her a new car at Carlsbad Car Country using some of our savings. Now she moved to LaCosta with her boyfriend. Can I buy myself a new car as a similar ‘gift’ with the remaining savings to help me celebrate Christmas?
A: The best information from an experienced divorce lawyer will always include reference to either case or statutory law so you know you can rely on the answer.
In this instance, the ‘gift’ of the auto you bought for your wife on her birthday is now her separate property. You cannot now unilaterally make a gift to yourself to balance the ultimate division of community property.
“[T]here is no authority for the proposition that husband could unilaterally decide to hold property as his separate property by making a gift of similar property to his spouse.” In re Marriage of Mason (1979) 93 Cal.App.3d 215, 155 Cal.Rptr. 350
The car you bought for your wife as a gift is her separate property and will not be even considered in the ‘equal division’ of the community property whereas the actual amount of money you spend on the car you buy for yourself after the date of separation will be charged to you even if the value of the car depreciates by the time you actually divide the community estate.
If you have questions about your community property, child custody or other divorce issues give an experienced attorney at Burke & Domercq, APC a call at 760-434-3330.