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Marcy
Marcy, B.A., M.S., J.D.
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If a vehicle is in 2 peoples names, can one person legally

Resolved Question:

If a vehicle is in 2 people's names, can one person legally take it from the other if they have a key?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: General
Expert:  Marcy replied 1 year ago.

Hello there -

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Can I ask you if the title AND insurance AND registration is in both names? If there is a loan is the loan also in both names?

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MARY

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

There's no loan. The title and registration is in both names. The insurance is in 1 name, that's mine.

Expert:  Marcy replied 1 year ago.

Hello again Rebecca -

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Legally, then, the answer to your question is that YES, the other owner with a key could actually take the vehicle (obviously, there may be some disturbing the peace issues if caught in the act -- but if the police are called they will most likely refuse to get involved and whomever has possession of the car at the time will be permitted to keep the car by the police with a strong admonishment by the police that this is a civil matter and the two of you need to take the matter up in a civil lawsuit if you cannot agree on who can keep the car). A civil lawsuit can be filed regarding ownership of the car and the court will tell the two of you to either come to an agreement regarding who retains the car and if the person not retaining the car receives a payout for the loss of their portion of the value of the car (whether a payout is due or not will be completely dependent upon which party made the payments on the car and showing proof that the payments were made by only one party -- if the payments were made by both parties then there will be a claim to a portion of the monetary value of the car). If the two of you cannot agree then the judge will either make an ownership and payment order or he will order that the car be sold and the proceeds be split pursuant to the amount of money that each of you paid into the payments to purchase the car. Regarding a civil lawsuit, you can take the matter into small claims court in your state if the value of the car is less than the small claims threshold in your state, Most states permit small claims cases to be heard in amounts from $5,000 to $10,000 and you can get the paperwork at the local county civil court house in the clerk's office.

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Please let me know if you have further questions regarding this matter or need further explanation.

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MARY

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

See, my daughter in law has the vehicle. It is in mine and her name. She is trying to divorce my son, and has an order for temporary custody of the vehicle. But my name is XXXXX XXXXX on the order. So would I get in trouble under these circumstances?

Expert:  Marcy replied 1 year ago.

Hello again Rebecca --

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The court order for temporary custody of the vehicle does change things immensely and I wish you had mentioned it earlier. Under these circumstances, the current court order trumps your ownership rights to the vehicle and you must wait for the original court to make a final disposition on the car or the value of the car in their divorce case. My suggestion here is that if you actually paid money on the car and/or your son did, that your son make a request of the court in the divorce that your daughter in law must pay you out the monetary value of any ownership interest that you have in the car when the divorce is final ( your son MUST bring it to the attention of the court that the secondary party on the car is not him -- it is you (the court will not know that unless he specifically tells the court and makes a request for you to be reimbursed if she is permitted to retain the car)). I wish I could tell you the same as I did earlier -- that you can take the car if you are an owner and have the key -- but you cannot do that because of the court order and you risk having your son jailed for contempt of court and you may also face fines and jail time for obstructing an order of the court),

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While this may take some time to sort out, if you can show that you paid into the value of the car and your son makes the proper notification and requests to the divorce court, you should receive some payment for what you may have put into the car (if you were just a cosigner and your son and estranged wife made the payments, then the actual value of the car will be a matter to be decided between the two of them). Finally, if the insurance is in your name and you are paying for it -- my suggestion here is to send her a letter telling her that you are cancelling the insurance in your name as you will no longer pay for it (give her a few weeks notice to get her own insurance) -- you are free to do this unless the court order forbids it. If the court order is just for temporary custody and mentions nothing of insurance payments, then you are in compliance with the court order by leaving the car in her custody.

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MARY

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Marcy, B.A., M.S., J.D.
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 14619
Experience: Researcher, Lawyer, Home Remodel Business, Real Estate, Cook
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