Rising Sun, MD asked in Small Claims and Consumer Law for Maryland

Q: The loan is in my name only but the registration and tags are in mine and Exs name. Who ownes the car legally?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: By title, you both legally own the car equally. Neither of you could be charged with the crime of theft for taking possession of the car from the other and driving it away. Civilly, however, as part of an alleged contract or agreement pursuant to which one of you made all the payments toward the purchase price, maintenance, repairs, insurance, registration and tags for the vehicle, and the other person's name was added to the title or financing for convenience or to qualify for the loan or some other reason while the person who incurred all the costs of the vehicle was really the owner with exclusive use and possession, that could be ruled upon by a court after trial on the issue to grant equitable ownership or possession of the car to that one owner pursuant to that agreement. If the party who was supposed to make the car payments on the loan failed to pay, then that may qualify as a breach of the agreement allowing the person in whose name the loan was acquired to take back the car in order to sell it to discharge the loan liability. Alternatively, in a dispute over ownership, a court may order the vehicle's sale and the net proceeds split between the owners after payment of the loan balance.

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