Legal Question in Civil Litigation in Florida

Rather simple question. A friend and I bought a car. She is first and I am co. She paid 1 late partial payment. Witch was due to misunderstanding and mistakes on creditors end. (do have documentation.)The lone is only 5 months old. But I have made all other payments and will continue. Her and I have had a fallen out, and she wants to take the car from me. I asked the creditor and was told she was not legally allowed to take it. I just need another more perceptional option.

Asked on 8/10/13, 11:35 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Barry Stein De Cardenas, Freixas, Stein & Zachary

You need to actually have a legal expert review your title for the car. Impossible to answer your question on the facts as presented. If you are an actual owner on the title you cannot be ousted by her, but the creditor can collect the vehicle if payments are not timely made.

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Answered on 8/11/13, 5:47 am

Byron Petersen Byron G. Petersen P.A.

A very easy answer. The car may not be taken by a co-owner unless the person that wants to take the car pays you 1/2 of the fair market value. Sometimes the FMV is hard to fix. Courts presume that experts are the only professionals that can determine and testify as to the FMV.

And that assumes you want to sell in the first place. If you do not want to sell you need to hire counsel to prepare a "Civil Theft" letter. I am assuming you are in Florida where you will be entitled to 3 times actual damages if you prevail [called 'treble damages'].

In the interim you can try the police (showing your paper work) but much more often than not the police do not want to be bothered by what they see as essentially "civil" matter, not a "criminal" one

If you want to "divorce" your co-owner you may have to file a partition action (filing fees are over the top). Then the judge sells the car at public auction and splits the net proceeds.

Also, as a co-owner your partner has to pay you one half of all car expenses you have incurred, and which should have been shared.

Watch out to insure that monthly premiums are up to date or the company that holds the 'mortgage' (security interest and financing statement) will send out the repo guys. Not good.

There is also a practical solution, very much subject to explanation and approval by the attorney you hire. You take the car and give it to your attorney or other fiduciary to hold (possibly you will need to switch out keys). Giving it to a third party fiduciary to hold pending resolution of your matter may do the trick. I am not counseling anything that could be construed as criminal on your part. That is why I want an attorney to approve this idea after meeting with you face to face. Do not to go on the property of the co-owner or you could be charged with trespass.

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Answered on 8/11/13, 9:35 am

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