What can I do if I let a girlfriend borrow a car and now that we’re breaking up, she won’t return it?

I lent a friend a car because she needed one to get around and take her kids to school. Now she says to

take her to court. I don’t want to report the car stolen but what are my options? The car is registered to me and it is financed in my name. I’m relocating out of state.

Asked on May 21, 2017 under Criminal Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Your recourse, since you had initially let her use  it and this is a dispute about how, when, whether, etc. she must return it, is to sue her for the car. The easiest way to proceed is to sue her for the now-current fair market (blue book) value of the car; if you can show that she has no right to keep it (i.e. it's titled to you; you never gave or gift it to her, but just let her use it), you can get a judgment for the value of the car and/or for its return. If it's an older car and its value is less than or equal to the small claims court limit, sue her in small claims, as your own attorney ("pro se") to both save legal costs and speed matters up (small claims court is faster than other courts).

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