Sherman Oaks, CA asked in Gov & Administrative Law for California

Q: My ex bought me a car. The care title and registration is in my ex’s name. I have been making the monthly payments on

the vehicle and pay for insurance in my name. I no longer want to make payments on a vehicle that I am not an owner of or be linked financially in any way. Can I return this car to my ex with no repercussions on myself going forward?

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: If the car title and registration is in your ex's name, then legally they are the owner of the car. As such, you cannot simply return the car to your ex without their agreement to take it back.

If you stop making payments and stop using the car, your ex may decide to take legal action against you to recover any unpaid amounts or to repossess the car. This could include suing you in court for the remaining balance on the loan or repossessing the car through legal means.

One option you could consider is speaking with your ex and coming to an agreement about transferring the car title and registration into your name, so that you can become the legal owner of the car and assume responsibility for the payments going forward. If your ex agrees to this, you should also make sure to update the insurance policy and any loan documents accordingly.

Alternatively, if your ex is not willing to transfer the title and registration into your name, you could try to negotiate a buyout agreement, where you pay your ex a lump sum to take ownership of the car. Again, any agreement reached should be put in writing and signed by both parties to avoid any future disputes.

In any case, it is advisable to consult with a licensed attorney in your area to understand your legal options and potential risks before taking any action.

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