If my ex and I lived together for about a year and he paid off my student loans totaling $50k, now that we just broke up can he sue me for the amount he paid?

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If my ex and I lived together for about a year and he paid off my student loans totaling $50k, now that we just broke up can he sue me for the amount he paid?

There was never any mention the money paid being a loan that I would pay him back. He paid it off and said don’t worry about it.

Asked on June 15, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Legally, if the money/payments were a gift when made--that is, they are made with no expectation of repayment and not in exchange for anything (e.g. not in exchange for you working for him or his business; or in exchange for some property of yours), then your ex has no right to it; a gift, once made, cannot be ungiven, and the giver has no futher rights to it. There must have been agreement between the two of you to repay (e.g. a loan) or an agreement to provide something else of value in exchange for the payments *at the time* the payments were made for the person who made the payments to have any claim to compensation; such an agreement cannot be added after the fact or by one party without the consent of the other.

That's the law. Practically, if your ex now claims that the money was a loan, then issue will turn in large part on what evidence, if any, he has that it was a loan, plus how persuasive or credible the two of  you respectively are. The advantage lies with you--the person suing for the recovery of money has the burden of proof (so, the obligation to affirmatively prove his case); however, that said, even if you would have the advantage in a lawsuit, it is difficult to prevent someone from at least initially filing the suit and forcing you to defend, if he is prepared to claim that there was a loan agreement or the like in place.


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