Is a driver who isnot the owner of car, be held legally responsible for payment of the loan on the car?

The loan was taken out by an ex-father-in-law. My daughter, since her ex-husband has not helped her in over a year, needed to surrender the car. Now the in-laws want her to pay for the loan. What is her legal responsibility? Nowhere did her name appear on the registration or car loan.

Asked on July 22, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A loan is a contract. Like a contract, it binds or obligates those who are parties to it, but not other persons. If your daughter did not take out or guarantee the loan, she is not responsible for it. It is unfortunate for her ex-father-in-law that he will have to pay a loan on a car that's not his and has been surrendered, but then, nobody forced him to take out the loan--he chose to do so. In doing so, he obligated himself. He cannot obligate another person to pay the loan.

The only exception would be if, even though she is not on the loan, there was some other agreement between your daughter and her ex-father-in-law that she would pay the loan, reimburse him, etc. If there was such an agreement, it is enforceable.


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