How to hold someone liable for a debt that they owe you?

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How to hold someone liable for a debt that they owe you?

A while back I loaned my mother and stepfather a large sum of money ($16,000) with the agreement that they would help me with my student loans and pay them back for that amount. However now that my mother and stepfather are divorcing, the stepfather is saying he does not owe any money while my mother still acknowledges the debt. I would like to file a civil lawsuit against the stepfather for the original amount, plus interest and fees I would incur for paying the student loans and otherwise.

Asked on October 5, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you loaned money pursuant to an agreement that it be repaid or that you get something else of value in exchange for it (e.g. help with your student loans, in a commensurate amount), you honored your obligation(s) (i.e. loaned the money), but the other party did not repay, then you may sue the other party for the money he owes you. You would be able to sue to enforce the terms of the agreement--that is, to get whatever repayment you were entitled under the loan agreement. Of course, if it was an oral agreement, proving its existence and terms may be difficult, but you still can seek to enforce it. You say the agreement was made "a while back"; there is a time limit on how long you have to sue (called the statute of limitations), and once it's passed, you can no longer bring a legal action. You should consult with an attorney *immediately*, before any more time passes.


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