But Who Gets the Tesla?


When James came home to see the electrician drilling in the outside wall, he had questions. He asked his spouse, Matthew, what was wrong with the electricity. James told him that there was nothing wrong, and that a surprise was coming.

An hour later, a silver Tesla was parked outside the home – James’ dream car had come to life. “Happy anniversary!” Matthew yelled. “It’s all yours, “he said to James. “We have our own charging station too,” Mathew explained about the electrician’s visit.

The Tesla became James’ pride and joy, and he drove it nearly every day. Neither James nor Matthew thought much of this development.

They did not think about the content of the prenuptial agreement that they had signed nine years prior and never looked at again.

They did not think about the fact that the Tesla’s title was still in Matthew‘s name, and that Matthew made the monthly payments on the car and also paid for all of the maintenance.

When the unthinkable happened and they began to talk about going their separate ways, James indicated that he would move out and bring his belongings with him, including the Tesla.

James had a definite opinion: “You’re not bringing the Tesla. Why would you? It’s obviously mine. I drive it every day. You’re the one who gave it to me.”

“I bought it so that you could enjoy using it and having your dream, but it was never intended to be yours forever, and that’s why the title has always been in my name – without complaint from you,” Matthew explained. “Plus, I paid for everything on that car without any contribution from you – that’s all my money.”

The hypothetical situation above is exactly the situation you want to avoid,it’s why people draft prenuptial and postnuptial agreements in the first place, and it’s why those agreements must be updated.

Here’s how it went wrong for our hypothetical couple:

  1. The couple never updated their prenuptial agreement.
    • Long-term couples need to evaluate their prenuptial or postnuptial agreement periodically as they acquire assets, debts, businesses, and changes in family members over time – all of which impact the contents and the intended effects of a prenup or a postnup.
    • This evaluation gives the couple time to take note of changes in relevant statutes and case law that could negatively impact or possibly benefit them. Additionally, couples may have changing intentions over time for certain assets or for any number of clauses in their agreement.
    • Here at JustPrenups, we can take your existing prenup or postnup and help you to evaluate its terms. We can make the process simpler and more straightforward to assess your current assets and liabilities and to tailor your agreement to your life as it is right now.
  2. The Tesla was a significant asset, but the couple never determined whether it operated as a gift in the marriage or as an investment for one party only.
    • There was never a meeting of the minds over who actually owned the car and could call the shots on its future.
    • One partner relied on his observations of behavior to reach his conclusion. The other partner relied on a paper trail to reach his conclusion. Both genuinely held their convictions about the true owner of the Tesla. Both reached their conclusions through logical means.
    • When a couple lives in harmony, such divergence can go undetected, but in times of conflict, it may be the start of expensive litigation.

A properly worded and regularly updated prenup or postnup can avoid the kinds of misunderstandings and hurt feelings that give rise to lengthy, expensive divorce proceedings.

An agreement can address what is an interspousal gift and what is not, especially for significant assets such as jewelry, homes and cars.

More importantly, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is always a living thing: together as a couple you have the power to affirm or to change the terms that you previously created as your lives unfold.

Warning: All posts on this website and its partner website, the DADvocacy™ Law Firm, contain general information about legal matters for broad educational purposes only. This information is not legal advice and should not be treated as such. This blog post does not create any attorney-client relationship between the reader and JustPrenups.com or DADvocacy™ Law Firm.