Can a creditor take my car?

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Can a creditor take my car?

I have a creditor that has a judgement against me for $8,000 that I have not had contact with for a couple years. I have been out of work and unable to seek work because I take care of my mother who is crippled and sick. I received a letter threatening to take my car. My 2000 car is barely working and I share it with my brother and use it to take my mother to appointments. I am totally dependent on the vehicle and I also co-own it with my brother. I hate my situation but I simply cannot negotiate when I have no income. I intend to eventually pay off the debt.

Asked on August 7, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If a creditor has a judgment against you, they have various mechanisms by which they may try to enforce it. For one, with the proper court order enforcing the judgement, the creditors could have  the sheriff (or a similar law enforcement official) seize the car and sell it, directing the proceeds to pay the creditor. If you do not solely own the car--e.g. if there is someone else on the title--this is complicated, since they would also need a court order apportioning ownership of the car and directing proceeds to the other owner (your brother), but if they think that they'd make enough to justify the additional court costs and lawyer time, they can do this. The fact that you need the car does not really factor into the situation, nor does the fact that you take care of your mother--most debtors are in bad situations, and if those situations allowed debtors to avoid paying debts, no one would ever pay. You may need to see if you negotiate some payment plan with the creditor. Could you, for example, borrow some money from your brother to make an initial payment on the debt?


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