What are my rights now that a car is paid off if 5 years ago my ex-boyfriend co-signed on a vehicle for me but I have made all of the payments?

He is the primary and I am the co-signer on the paperwork. I paid the down payment of $9000 and I have made all the payments of $325.71 every month for the last 5 years. He has not paid anything; I have all the bank records to show my accounts and the money flow. The car will be paid off in 11 months and I am concerned that he is going to be awarded the title for the vehicle because he is the primary signer. Am I going to have to go to court and see a judge to have the title in my name and keep the vehicle? I paid for the whole thing, so it is my right to the car, correct?

Asked on December 10, 2015 under Business Law, Texas


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If you're on the note, then your name should also end up on the title....depending on how the paperwork was completed.  The title will go to the address listed on the account for the main account holder.  If you have access to the online account system, you need to make sure that they have the address for the owners listed as your address so that the title will come to your address.
However, if you do not have access, they may not change the address and will simply send him the title. 
Even if you do manage to get the title sent to your address, you will still have an issue with the title as it will have his name on it.  To legally transfer the title to your name, he will need to sign the paperwork with the DMV to get it transferred into your name alone.  Several years ago this was just a matter of signing the title and handing it over.  Today, the DMV requires additional documents to be signed... so once you have the title and you locate your old boyfriend, make sure you take all of the required transfer documents so that you don't have to track him down later.
In the event the title goes to him and he refuses to turn it over to you, you will need to file a suit against him for a breach of contract or to 'clear title' in order to get it into your name alone.  Start working on locating him now via the internet.  If that doesn't work, you can reach out to a private investigator.. most have access to reports that can list last known addresses which may be a helpful starting point.

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