When I was 16 I gave my parents $2,000 to pay for my first car. I gave them cash and they purchased the car on my behalf, but my fathers name is on the title. I have driven the car for over 4 years and have paid for the gas and oil and any repairs it has needed. I drive my siblings and mom places so my dad agreed to pay the insurance. Now my dad is threatening to not let me drive the car and take it back. Is there anything I can do become the owner of the car? Or is my only shot to convince him to let me have it?
There are things you can do. If you can prove you paid the money for the car and paid for repairs over the years, you may be able to sue for breach of contract or unjust enrichment. I think you'd have some difficulties though. Why not just ask him to sign over title to you and you become responsible for the insurance?
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In theory, there may be remedies, but in practice your only hope is to convince father to sign over the title, now that you are over age 18. There are impediments to unemancipated minors enforcing contract rights even if you could prove a contract, which you probably cannot. Moreover, one reason your father paid the insurance is likely because if you tried to insure the vehicle yourself when you were just 16, you could not and now it would still be much more expensive for you to carry your own insurance policy than to be an "additional insured" on your father's policy. So, all that said, if a court were to do an analysis based upon what's "fair", the court would probably find that your dad "owns" the car and he can take it away from you if he wants to...
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I agree with most of the other attorneys answers, but I'd also like to add that on a more practical note - even if you could sue your dad to get the car title - it would probably cost about as much as the car is worth, or more. In other words, it would likely be much cheaper to convince him to sign over the title or to give him the car back and obtain your own car - since you are now 20, you'd be able to purchase, finance, etc. your own car if your efforts to negotiate with dad aren't successful. The other piece that's missing is why is he threatening that? If it is because you've upset him (i.e. he doesn't like your bf/gf, then that's one thing, if it is because you have criminal charges pending, etc., then that's another. (Knowing why he's upset will help you better negotiate the deal).
Hope that helps a little bit!
You have various options from the other attorneys. I would add that suing a family member, and especially a parent, is a really dicey proposition if you care about your relationship with your family. I definitely agree that why your dad is making this threat is an important point, as addressing whatever it is could point to the resolution. Another good thing to do is to have another family member or a good friend of the family who has good relationships with both of you and is level-headed help you sit down and talk with him so that this can be resolved.
Please note: This answer is not intended and should not be considered as legal advice. Such professional advice requires full disclosure to an attorney of a client’s circumstances and that attorney’s opportunity to analyze those circumstances against applicable law.
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