Legal Question in Credit and Debt Law in Rhode Island


i have currently filed for divorce the problem is my soon to be ex has possession of a leased vehichle solely in my name. when he left the house 5 months ago he refused to turn over the truck and agreed to make the monthly truck and insurance payments to me. i reluctlantly agreed. he has since stopped paying me and i am told by my lawyer that my only recourse is to have the bank repossess the truck. is this true or can i just go and drive the truck away if i can find it? if it is repoed i will still be responsible to pay for something i don't have.

Asked on 9/18/05, 9:44 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Staff General Counsel LawyersCollaborative

Re: deadbeat

To answer your specific question, if you can without breaching the peace locate and take your vehicle back, then it is lawful to do so. You also may choose to hire a repossession firm to repossess the vehicle on your behalf, which I suggest would be preferable to doing so yourself.

Easier still may be to demand in writing that your spouse return the vehicle within or by a specific time and date and, if he does not return it voluntarily, file a criminal complaint with the police department.

If the police refuse to act (they may tell you this is a civil dispute - you might want to press, gently, if you get such a reaction), or even without filing a police complaint, you have the right ask the court to order that he return your vehicle immediately.

Since you have a divorce case pending, it seems to me that the most economical method would be to file a motion in the pending family court action seeking such relief, perhaps together with a motion for temporary orders of support, if applicable.

Perhaps your divorce lawyer has a different understanding of the facts than presented in your question. I suggest you speak with him or her again and maybe even send your lawyer a note outlining the facts as you have here.

Alternatively, a separate suit may be filed in Superior Court seeking what is called a writ of replevin, which is simply a request that the Court issue an order requiring your husband to deliver the vehicle to you.

If you do nothing, and let the leasing company repossess the vehicle, the lease agreement will typically permit the leasing company to add repossession expenses to the amount you owe for defaulting under the lease agreement, together with substantial additional penalties. Then it is your credit that may be adversely affected, not your husbands; as such, I strongly suggest you give careful consideration to such a course of inaction.

You may take some solice in knowing that it is not unusual for us to see cases like this in our general practice law firm; even more common with girl- or boy-friends co-siging loans for the other, etc.

Good luck and best wishes,

Scott Summer

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Answered on 9/18/05, 10:40 am

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