Can I be sued for not returning a car that was given to me?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Can I be sued for not returning a car that was given to me?

A friend gifted me a car that sat in a field for 2 years, not running. I paid for towing, storage, repairs and had the title transferred a few days ago. I have the bill of sale and the car is insured. His wife suddenly decided to divorce him and is demanding I return it or face consequences. The car was originally in the husband’s name and he purchased it during the marriage with money he inherited from his grandmother’s estate. Can I keep the car? Do I owe either of them anything? Can I get into trouble for having this car?

Asked on August 24, 2019 under Family Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Legally, a gift, once given, cannot be ungiven: the car is yours. And since the car was in the husband's name only and was paid for with an inheritance, his wife had no interest in it.
That's the law. Practically, if she sues you for the car, you'll have to deal with the lawsuit: remember, the court does not, going into the suit, know the facts (i.e,. that the car was a legitimate gift to you, from its sole owner), so she can proceed with the case and has a chance to prove her position. You'll have to disprove her case to defend against it (i.e. prevent her making her case unimpeded). If she looks like she will sue, you have to ask yourself: is the car worth litigation? Or should you agree to give to give it to her to avoid litigation?

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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