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Albert Young J.D.
Albert Young J.D., Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 42
Experience:  33 Years of Litigation Experience with an emphasis on Family Law
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Can my X husband take back a gift after divorce

Customer Question

My x husband gave me a car as a gift in 2003 and now is requesting that I give it back. Can he do this to me? Upon signing the divorce papers, he gave me half the divorce settlement. Now that the papers are in and he has to pay me the other half, he has told me that either I keep the car he gave me as a gift or I get the rest of the money. We had a verbal agreement that the I was to keep the car when we separated three years ago. The title was lost and he was supposed to send to get a new one and sign it over to me, but he never did. I trusted him and never put the ownership of my car in the divorce papers. He does not want to pay the remainder and is using the car he gave me as a gift as a bargaining chip. Can he do this?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Albert Young J.D. replied 7 years ago.
DearCustomer

It's always unfortunate when situations such as these take such an ugly turn. That was a gift to you and should not ethically be used as a 'bargaining chip' of any kind.

The problem that you will face is the definition of ownership.

A motor vehicle is legally owned by the individual listed as the owner on the title to the vehicle. If this vehicle was never signed over to you, and his name is XXXXX XXXXX on the title as owner, the gift transaction was never completed. Because you never actually had the title in your name the act of giving you the vehicle as a gift was never legally completed.

Therefore, your recourse in this situation will be negligible. Even if you can successfully argue that the two of you verbally agreed that this would be a gift to you the giving of the gift never happened in the eyes of the legal system because the title was never transfered.

Your options in this situation would appear to be as follows.

First, you can attempt to convince him to sign over the title. Once you do this the vehicle is legally yours. Do note that since there is a loan still on the vehicle it is unlikely the transfer will be approved unless you re-finance the vehicle and pay off the loan. Remember, the lender has a lien on this title and will have the final say over any transfer of ownership. If money is still owed on a vehicle loan in his name the lender almost certainly will deny you the ability to transfer the title to your name unless the vehicle is first paid off.

Second, you can hire an attorney and make an attempt at a lawsuit stating that a verbal agreement existed in this case. Again, you'll face two major sticking points. First, the vehicle was never legally titled to you and the gift giving then never legally took place. Second, the title cannot be transfered to you at this moment without lender approval which you won't get unless you pay off the loan and remove the lender from the equation.

I'm sorry you find yourself in this difficult situation as you were obviously lied to and mis-treated. Unfortunately, since the title cannot be transfered until the vehicle is paid off without lender approval (which you aren't going to get) legally the vehicle is still his to do with as he pleases.

I wish I could have better news for you. If you need me to elaborate further please let me know. Otherwise, please remember that your deposited funds are not transfered as payment for an answer from your Just Answer account until you click ACCEPT.

Thank you,
Albert R Young J.D.
Albert Young J.D., Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 42
Experience: 33 Years of Litigation Experience with an emphasis on Family Law
Albert Young J.D. and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank you Albert. There is no loan against the car. My ex-husband paid the car in full a year after he bought it for me. The fact that the car was mine was never a question which is why I did not put it in the divorce settlement. We talked about it and we verbally agreed that he would send for the lost title and sign it over to me. Now that the divorce is finalized,he has to pay 15,000, but instead has decided to give me a choice. I either keep the car which is valued at $9,875.00 or the cash. Obviously I regret trusting him, but up until now, there was never a reason for me not to trust him. I'm assuming that he has to give me the money bc it's in our divorce decree so I guess he is bounded by that, but is there anything at all that I can do about the car? Is there a way for a gift to be legally effective? I drove this car out of the show room in 2003 and it has been with me ever since. Sorry for the reply but this is not fair.
Expert:  Albert Young J.D. replied 7 years ago.
DearCustomer

Never apologize for replying to a post on Just Answer. We experts pride ourselves on thoroughly explaining the situation and helping you in any way possible. If you wanted a single answer with no chance to elaborate or specialize it for your situation you wouldn't have paid to come to us.

You are correct on the $15,000. I would not suggest accepting his little proposal. You should be due that $15,000 by law and the vehicle has no effect on that.

There is no question here that this was to be a gift for you. If it were an item without legal title, such as a television, then possession would be your proof of ownership and there would be no question.

The problem here lies in the fact that a vehicle has a legal registered owner. This would overrule the actual possession of the vehicle since there is legal documentation listing him as the owner.

If this had been a purchase agreement you may have grounds for a lawsuit claiming breach of contract and demanding the vehicle be signed over to you. The problem here is that, since it was a gift without an actual monetary exchange, this avenue would be much more difficult to explore.

In my opinion, the following is your best course of action.

*First, I would definitely not agree to waiving that $15,000 for any reason. That is legally binding and owed to you in accordance with the divorce settlement.

*Second, I would suggest consulting a local attorney to represent you in a lawsuit against this man demanding title of the vehicle that was given to you as a gift be signed over to you. This is by no means a perfect case and I'm not entirely sure you will win. However, if you can get him to admit as part of this process that this vehicle was a gift to you that may be enough to have the court force him to sign the title over. If he denies that he gave you the vehicle it will be very difficult to prove otherwise. If you'd purchased the vehicle you could show proof of payment to aid your case. Since this was a gift you'll need to prove his intentions which can be incredibly difficult if he denies everything.

I wish I could have better news for you but since he failed to sign over the vehicle he has made this a complex situation. If you need further elaboration please do not hesitate to ask. Otherwise, please remember that your funds are not transfered from your Just Answer account to the Expert as payment until you acknowledge the answer by clicking Accept.

Thank you,
Albert R Young J.D.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank you Albert. You have been most helpful! All the best!
Expert:  Albert Young J.D. replied 7 years ago.
You are quite welcome. All the best to you and I hope you can enjoy the Holiday Season despite these problems.

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Albert Young J.D.
Albert Young J.D.
41 Satisfied Customers
33 Years of Litigation Experience with an emphasis on Family Law