Two Names Sign on Title, One Name Leaves
July 13, 2010 10:10 AM   Subscribe

NotMyLawyerFilter: How can we get my girlfriend's ex-husband's name off her car title? Of course, there are complications...

My girlfriend bought a car, and her (then) husband co-signed, so his name is on the title.

When they divorced, she kept the car (as it had always been hers). She has been solely responsible for car payments. When they divorced, they also filed bankruptcy. I don't know if there was ever any official documentation filed at the time of divorce/bankruptcy dealing with the ownership of the car, but his name is still on the title.

Since then, her ex has gotten numerous moving violations. Because his name is on the title, her auto insurance rates are through the roof. She and her ex are not on speaking terms at all, and to our knowledge, he is now living in another state and we don't know how to get in touch with him. She thinks that he would refuse to sign off on removing his name from the title anyway, just to be a jerk.

She's about to pay off the car, but we'd really like to get his name off of it. It would definitely lower her insurance rates; plus, we're not sure if she could even sell the car without his signature. Any Help?

PS: They bought the car, were married, divorced, and declared bankruptcy in Arizona, if that makes a difference.
posted by Saxon Kane to Law & Government (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Exactly. You should be asking this question of a lawyer practicing in Arizona.
posted by alms at 10:22 AM on July 13, 2010

Take a look at Arizona's web site on car titles.

In short, it's going to depend on how ownership is construed on the title itself. It's possible that the ex's signature could be required to transfer the title, including to your girlfriend alone. It's also possible that it isn't. You'll just have to look.

I don't think the bankruptcy thing is going to matter here. Cars are frequently not counted as part of your assets--they aren't terribly liquid--and even when there is a car loan which is discharged, the underlying ownership of the car, i.e. to whom it is titled, isn't changed most of the time.

This may actually be a time to call the insurance company. Many companies will work with you to some extent if you can prove that the person in question does not live with you and has no access to the vehicle. Sometimes an affidavit will be sufficient. I'd give them a call.
posted by valkyryn at 10:23 AM on July 13, 2010

As far as how to get the title transferred without his signature if it's required or compelling him to provide one... yeah, get a lawyer.
posted by valkyryn at 10:23 AM on July 13, 2010

This should be, or should have been, a part of the property division in the divorce decree. Look though it carefully, if it is listed that might be all the DMV needs. If it's not listed, or if the DMV needs more, talk to the lawyer that handled the divorce for her.
posted by Some1 at 10:29 AM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just went through this. Don't know if any of it is specific to my state - Arkansas. First, the title must be written "Girlfriend OR Ex." If the title has AND instead of OR, you won't get off the ground without his cooperation. Now, if the title says OR, she can refinance the car (assuming her credit is good enough) with her name only. Or if her credit sucks, her and a different co-signer.
posted by CwgrlUp at 5:07 PM on July 13, 2010

This situation happened to me. The divorce decree stating that my car was mine would have been enough, except it wasn't specific as to the make and model that was mine. So, I was forced to get his signature to "sell" the car from Mr. and Mrs. Asscrack to Ms. Wwartorff.

How did I obtain his signature when I didn't know where he was? Well, I'm not saying a friend helped me out with his male handwriting. I'm not saying that at all.
posted by wwartorff at 5:26 PM on July 13, 2010

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