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Thomas Swartz
Thomas Swartz, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Twenty one years experience as a lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Former Appellate Law Clerk.
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My exboyfriend owes me money from a house we bought together-

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My exboyfriend owes me money from a house we bought together- about $7500. My name isn't on the deed, the mortgage or anything. In an email, he only agreed to pay me $3000 in installments- Labor Day weekend, end of Sept. and final amount end of Oct. He paid $300 Labor Day, but refuses to pay me now. Will his email and copy of the $300 check stand as evidence in small claims court? Is small claims court my best option? Thank you. Wendy



Yes, his email and the check can be used as evidence of the agreement you entered into with him. I am a little confused about the nature of the agreement you had with him though, because if you agreed to purchase the house together, your name should have been on the deed. Or maybe you just had some sort of agreement to loan him some monies for him to complete the purchase of the house, and to make repairs etc. It may be a little difficult for you to prove the exact nature of the agreement you had with him if nothing is on paper. But the email and the check at least can be used as some evidence of the terms of the agreement. Your own testimony can also be used to establish the terms of your agreement.


It does not look like small claims court will be a good option for you. The limit for small claims in Rhode Island is only $1,500 (Click Here). I am not a Rhode Island attorney, but it looks like you will have to take him to District Court in Rhode Island. Since the amount involved is $7,500 and small claims may not be an option, you may want to consider hiring an attorney.



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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
The agreement was that I would help him purchase the house and pay for half of everything and half of the equity would be mine when we refinanced after 2 yrs. After we broke up and the market went bad, he sent me an email and said that he would give me $3000 towards my half of the taxes, insurance, repairs and plants, etc. that I contributed to for a year. Since my name isn't on any documents, and he agreed to pay me $3000 in an email I asked him for a time schedule of payments. He made one payment of $300 and now refuses to pay the rest. I think the contract to pay me $3000 is enforceable and I don't think that he agrees that he actually owes me $7500. I do have cancelled checks, but without my name on anything or an agreement in writing, I'm not sure that I have a legal leg to stand on. In my opinion, if I take him to court for the $3000, I will end up giving $1500 to a lawyer anyway, whereas if I take him to small claims, I wouldn't have to pay an attorney and recoup at least some of my money.

The maximum amount you will be allowed to recover in small claims would be $1,500. That the jurisdictional limit Rhode Island small claims court. So if you want to try to get more, with or without an attorney, you would have to go to District Court. Your testimony plus the email should be sufficient to prove an agreement as to the $3,000.



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