During a divorce, you and your spouse will be restricted in what financial actions you can take by a set of restraining orders. These restraining orders are automatic and temporary, included in the summons and effective with the filing and service of the initial divorce papers.

Generally, you will be restricted from making any significant purchases, transferring ownership of any community property, taking out debt, lending money or changing the beneficiaries on any insurance policies. In most cases, this precludes you from buying a car.

However, with court approval or with the approval of your spouse, you may be able to purchase a car while still under the restraining order. If your teen was expecting a car or you and your spouse were already planning on purchasing a car for your teen prior to the separation, you may be able to gain the approval necessary to purchase a car.

However, family finances often change significantly while a divorce is finalized and this could make executing your original plan to purchase your teen a car difficult, if not impossible. If you want to buy your teen a car while the divorce is underway, and your spouse does not agree, be prepared to present a compelling argument to the judge, if a hearing is set. There are certain circumstances that could warrant an approval of such a purchase.

Always keep in mind that until you are divorced, your finances are also your spouse’s finances. As such, your spouse will need to agree on any major purchases, such as a car. Some purchases made after the date of separation may be considered separate property, however if they are bought with community funds, they could be considered mixed, or commingled property.

If you purchase your teen a car without the courts’ or your spouse’s approval, you could be held liable for the cost of the car and it may not be divided equally upon divorce. You may be held to that car as your own separate property, meaning you get to keep it but you also are on the hook for the payments. That being said, it is important you follow the automatic temporary restraining orders in your summons closely and consult with an experienced family law attorney should you want to seek an exception or exemption.

Are you in the Los Angeles area and have questions about handling your finances during the divorce? Certified Family Law Specialist Mark H. Karney has experience handling high net-worth divorces in Los Angeles County. Attorney Mark H. Karney can evaluate your scenario and advise you on what financial actions you can and cannot take. Call our Los Angeles office at 310-564-5710; email us at intake@cfli.com or contact us through our online form to schedule your free consultation with one of Los Angeles’ premier family law attorneys.