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Question DetailsAsked on 9/6/2016

Can there be a lien on my property if payment for a car is missed with no contract?

father paid for car now divorce and she wants money for car. No contract from 19 years ago

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1 Answer


You say lien on "property" - obviously I cannot give legal advice, but generally a lien can only be placed against property that repairs or a loan were advanced against - so for a car loan for instance, unless the contract specifically pledged your real estate a lien could not be put against your home.

Assuming you meant a car lien, whose name is the car titled in ? And note I said TITLE, not REGISTRATION - two different things. If title is held in your father's name or father and mother's jointly, the car will likely be subject to liquidation inthe divorce - though you could claim part ownership provided you have proof of car loan payments made by you - and hopefully a sale agreement.

Generally, a lien (protecting against future payments on a car loan) has to be registered on the title at the time it is issued / transferred to you - when the sale and payoff agreement was made. So if the title is in your name and shows NO LIEN, then she is probably out of luck. And if you were making payments and have paid it off, then the title should have been changed to reflect the payoff at that time, and any lien removed from the title.

If it had been individually owned by your father before he sold it to you, whether he could release the lien at this time depends on state laws. Generally, if the car was his before the marriage or was bought during the marriage with his private individual separate funds (not common funds with his wife) then the ownership is between you and him.

If common funds were used to buy the car, then she probably has an interest in any outstanding loan but would generally be bound by the current payment terms and contract - so you would probably end up splitting your payments on the car (if not fully paid off) between him and her per the terms of the divorce agreement. They would have to give you official notification of the split and who and where the payments are to go to. And if the terms are not clear and in writing, I would get that done BEFORE making any payments after the divorce (but don't miss any payments) so there will not be trouble down the road on this.

If you have been making payments and now miss a payment, then the owner of the car (your father or him and his wife depending on when bought and with whose funds) can put a lien on it for the remaining balance due on the loan, if one was not put on at the original sale to you. And if you miss payments the lien can be foreclosed on - the car repossessed.

Unless the divorce is specifically spelling out the ownership of this car you may need to file a declaration or affidavit with the divorce court regarding your part-ownership based on payments made to date, especially if there is no clear written contract for the sale of the car to you and documentation on the terms and remaining amount due on the loan.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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