Can I remove my name from a car loan if my ex-wife has the car?

I have been divorced from my ex-wife for a year now on a mutual separation. A vehicle is in both of our names but she has had possession of the vehicle the entire time. I have noticed a drop in my credit score from 720 to 513. Through research. I have found that she has only paid 1 payment since the divorce. I do not know where she lives or where the vehicle is. I have tried to reach out to her on multiple occasions through text messages, phone calls and social media. She had not returned any of my calls or text messages and it has been weeks. I am wondering what I can do legally about this situation?

Asked on August 25, 2018 under Family Law, Delaware


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that you cannot just have your name removed for the car loan. it was a contract between the 3 of you - the bank, your ex-wife and yourself. And the lender was not a party to your divorce action. Accordingly, unless you can get them to agree to release you from your loan obligation, your name must remain. That having been said, if under the terms of your divorce your wife was to have refinanced the car and get a loan in her name only, hen you can take her to court to enforce that order.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You can't remove your name from the loan: the loan was a contract between yourself and your wife, on the one hand, and the lender on the other. To change a contract, you need the agreement of all parties--the lender would have to agree to relesase you from the loan. And they will not do that--letting you out of the loan makes it less likely for them to get paid, by reducing the number of people who have to pay and whom they could sue. Bear in mind that the outcome of your divorce has no effect on the lender or the loan agreement; the lender was not part of your marriage or divorce, and is not affected by what happened in your marriage.
IF you wife had agreed in the divorce to refinance the car and remove you from the loan in that way, you can enforce that agreement against her by taking her to court for "breach of contract" and forcing her to refinance (assuming that her credit is good enough to refinance in her name only). But you can only do this if she actually agreed to pay off or refinance the loan.

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