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Hypothetical situation in CT, USA:

  1. Before A and B are Married...
    • A owns 2 vehicles.
    • B owns 0 vehicles.
  2. During marriage...
    • A is the sole source of income. B did not have a job when they met, and has not had one since.
    • A adds B to auto insurance for both vehicles.
    • A provides B with keys to both vehicles.
    • A allows B to use a vehicle. Whichever is convenient at the time.
  3. A plans to file for divorce, and has notified B of this verbally.
  4. B has moved out and is living separately.
  5. A wishes to revoke B's permission to use one (or both) vehicle(s).

Questions:

  1. Does B have the right to continue driving one (or both) vehicles until the divorce? If B has intentionally damaged property out of spite in the past, would this give A better footing to withdraw permission to use the vehicles to protect them?
  2. Can A remove B from their auto insurance and force B to get their own?
  3. Is the answer to 1 or 2 different if B has custody of an infant from a prior relationship? (Could the use of a vehicle be deemed a necessary "support" if there is an infant involved?)
  • Hi, and welcome to law.SE! Could you edit to add why A wants to prevent B from driving? That might make a difference. Is it just because A wants to keep the car for themselves; is it because there have been problems in the past (B damaged the car, or similar)? – sleske Dec 4 '17 at 11:04
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Questions:

  1. Does B have the right to continue driving one (or both) vehicles until the divorce?

  2. Can A remove B from their auto insurance and force B to get their own?

  3. Is the answer to 1 or 2 different if B has custody of an infant from a prior relationship? (Could the use of a vehicle be deemed a necessary "support" if there is an infant involved?)

A partial answer, since I am not familiar with some of the fine points of Connecticut law. This partial answer also explains why there may not be much case law on this point in any state.

Very early on in divorce proceedings (from a few days to a few weeks into the case if there are urgent disputed issues of support for a spouse or urgent disputes concerning custody) there is typically a "temporary orders" hearing that resolves questions like (1) and (2) on a case by case basis, at which a judge would almost certainly grant the spouse permission to use the car and insist that husband keep car insurance in force for wife.

With regard to (1), in Colorado, if permission were revoked to use the car, that might be effective, but only until a temporary orders hearing. I don't know if Connecticut would apply the same rule pending a temporary orders hearing.

But in either state, a husband who attempted to withdraw permission granted during the marriage to use a car in the time period until a temporary orders hearing in the situation described in the question would be totally fucked later in on the proceeding if he did. A judge has extremely wide discretion to make decisions at temporary orders and permanent orders and almost every judge would be seriously disgusted by a husband who acted that way (unless there was a good reason such as the wife having her license revoked, or facing a pending revocation for traffic law violations, or a recent accident, or driving drunk with a child in the car). In the case of an affluent family, a "dick move" like that would probably cost the husband hundreds of thousands of dollars in a typical case at permanent orders (even if it was remedied in temporary orders only a few days later) and would probably also lead to a seriously negative outcome for the husband on any custody issue, if there were children involved, because it would reflect a disregard for the best interests of his children at an almost psychopathic level in the eyes of a judge.

With regard to (2), this is specifically prohibited by an injunction that comes into force automatically and immediately by either party's filing of a divorce petition in Colorado. So, in Colorado, the husband could go to jail for contempt of court for doing that. I don't know if Connecticut has a similar provision. This too would also lead to huge blowback directed towards the husband from the judge at temporary orders and permanent orders in almost every case, even in the absence of an injunction. Judges are positively wrathful towards husbands who mistreat their dependent soon to be ex-spouses.

With regard to (3), this wouldn't have much of an effect if any. Support is normally set in permanent orders or temporary orders and the duty of support would run to the spouse and not to the infant. (Although the formal definition of infant is less than one year old, and if the infant was from a prior relationship that would imply a very short marriage indeed.)

  • In this hypothetical situation. A wished to revoke driving permissions from B, because B has been extremely vindictive in the past. B has destroyed thousands of dollars of property in the past when they did not "get their way". – Overwatch Dec 4 '17 at 16:14
  • Would 2 be different if the insurance provider was a relative of A or B instead? – Overwatch Dec 4 '17 at 16:15
  • @Overwatch: How is the insurance provider a relative? Most providers (if not all) are corporations. Do you mean insurance agent? – sharur Dec 4 '17 at 19:37
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    @overwatch: All I can say is tread carefully. It's better to let B destroy the property for two reasons. First, any judge is going to take that into consideration. Second, there are ways of seeking redress. – NotMe Dec 4 '17 at 20:43
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    @NotMe This really is a Hypothetical. It's the fruit of a very late night discussion between some friends, and I was having trouble finding any cases that dealt with vehicles BEFORE a divorce was finalized. A and B are loosely based off people we know. But those people aren't in a relationship, so the situation isn't real. If it WAS real though, one of the vehicles is irreplaceable (Classic car that A and late father restored together. Never intended to be daily driven). – Overwatch Dec 5 '17 at 6:11

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