If you’re like many divorcing Florida couples, one of the largest assets you’ll have to “divide” in some way is a boat. Whether it’s a small sailboat or a yacht, it probably holds a lot of memories. It may also have cost you a significant amount of money.
If you and your spouse purchased the boat together and are both on the title, it is subject to Florida’s equitable distribution laws. Even if only one of you purchased it, if money from joint bank accounts or credit cards has been used to maintain and/or store it, the non-purchasing spouse can lay some claim to it unless you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement stipulating otherwise.
If a boat is jointly owned, it’s typically best when spouses can reach an agreement where one keeps it and the other gets an asset of roughly the same value in exchange. If you and your spouse can’t agree on who gets the boat, a judge will have to decide.
What Happens if a Judge Has to Make the Decision?
If one of you makes a compelling case for keeping it, they’ll likely order you to give up other assets in return. However, they may order you to sell it and split the proceeds. That’s why if you feel strongly about keeping it, it’s probably in your best interests to negotiate with your spouse.
If you’re the one who ends up keeping the boat, remember that you’ll need to have your now ex-spouse’s name removed from the title. You’ll also need to submit an application to the U.S. Coast Guard to change the certificate of title. If you provide a copy of your divorce decree, you won’t have to pay a registration fee or sales tax. As with the transfer of a car or a house, you want to be sure that if you’re now the sole owner, the title reflects that. If you’re the one who no longer has any ownership, be sure that your name is removed from the title.
Before you try to hold onto a boat or any other asset that costs money to maintain, be sure you can afford to own it alone – and that you’re seeking to keep it because you want it and not just to get back at your spouse. With experienced legal guidance, you can work to keep the assets that mean the most to you.