What are my options if I co-signed on a car with my ex?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What are my options if I co-signed on a car with my ex?

I co-signed for a vehicle for my ex-husband while we were still together. Both our names are on loan and registration but after we separated, he continues to make late payments some more than 30 days late and let the insurance lapse for 25 days a couple months ago. I asked him to sign the car

over to me and I would make the payments on time but it is his only vehicle so he won’t. Can I get my name off the car loan or can I legally force him to sign the car over to me? Can I just go take the car since I’m legally a co-owner and I have a key? He is making the payments late deliberately to hurt my credit.

Asked on April 20, 2018 under Family Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) You can't get your name off the car loan: the loan is a contract between you and him, on the one hand, and the lender or financing agency on the other, and as a contract, it can only be modified--including to let one of the parties off the loan--with the consent or agreement of all parties. That is, the lender would have to voluntarily agree to take you off the loan, and there is no reason they would do that--all that would do is hurt their interests, by eliminating a person responsible for paying and whom they could sue if the loan is not paid.
2) Neither of you can unilaterally keep the car away from the other; you both, as co-owners, have the right to use the car.
3) If the two of you cannot agree as to what to do with the car, you could bring a legal action court and ask the judge to decide who gets the car (or that it must be sold and the proceeds, if any, split). When the two owners of an object or other property cannot decide what to do with it, a court can make the decision for them. In the lawsuit, you could also potentially seek compensation for any late fees or other costs you incurred due to him. This kind of legal action is not as straightforward as suing someone over an unpaid bill; you are advised to speak with an attorney and let a lawyer help you.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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