My car is in my ex's name, but i was paying for it

my now exboyfriend and i were living together for 10 years we have 4 children together, when we first started living together we bought a vehicle and decided to put it in his name to help him make credit, i was making the payments, and had agreed to put the title in my name after i payed it off, we now have Split up. i have only $500 left to pay off my vehicle but hes taken the keys saying its his car, do i have any right?

Lebanon, OR -

Attorney Answers (2)

James Oberholtzer

James Oberholtzer

Business Attorney - Portland, OR
Answered

You have a complicated legal situation that would cost more than the value of the car to figure out. First, it is part of your intimate relationship and so it may involve family law (which I do not do). Second, the usual rule is the person on the title is the owner of the car unless there is a binding agreement otherwise or other intervening legal obligation. So, is there any evidence of an actual agreement between you about the ownership of the car? anything in writing? anything that reflects an agreement about what should happen in this situation?
Is there any evidence about why you were making the loan payments on his car? Was it intended as a gift? or a loan? or a partnership? If so, what would the terms of these things be?
Is he unjustly enriched if he gets to keep the car? did you get some benefit out the arrangement? things he paid for or did for you?
As you can see many questions; potentially, lots of legal work. Very expensive. Perhaps, mediation would be a better, more efficient route than pure law for solving your problem.

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Robert Lloyd Mauger Jr

Robert Lloyd Mauger Jr

Business Attorney - Corvallis, OR
Answered

As Mr. Oberholtzer stated, mediation is likely your best route. If that doesn't work, your most affordable route may be to file a small claims action for the repayment of the vehicle payments you have made. As mentioned, you would need to make some showing that the payments were intended as a loan or an investment in the car and not as a gift. Your ex likely has a different theory about what those payments represent. You can also petition for a dissolution of non-marriage property, but I agree that if the car is your only jointly purchased or held asset, it's unlikely to be a cost effective route.

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