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WA Driving My Ex's Car - What's My Obligation?

Discussion in 'Property Law Forum' started by Liss, 3 September 2015.

  1. Liss

    Liss Member

    3 September 2015
    Likes Received:
    This isn't a short story but I'll try and bullet point it to make it bearable. Any assistance would be amazing.

    - My husband leased a second car in 2013 under his name for me to drive and gave it to me on my birthday. He chose it to be in his name so he could salary package for tax benefits.

    - When we split up later that year. He wanted it to stay in his name so he could continue to get the tax benefit but I could continue to drive it and give him all his out of pocket costs. He planned on starting his own business eventually and wanted for me to take it in my name when that happened. Lease company said the cheapest way would be to pay $500 for a change in details but leave him as guarantor. A complete refinance to another party would cost $2000+ so he agreed to plan to be guarantor when he started his business..

    - It is also relevant that when we split up I let him keep all proceeds from the house sale on the condition he paid all out all joint debts. The remainder he could keep. I did this because his parents gave a large sum to help purchase it. It didn't feel right to take half of that.

    - When he started his own business this year he had to change the lease agreement with the car finance company because of his change in employment. I don't know the specifics but the payment amount changed and it no longer includes insurance/rego etc. so I have to pay them on top.

    - He then insisted I take on full responsibility for the car and pay $2000+ for the finance to be redone entirely to me. I don't even know what the new finance agreement is. I offered to return the car to him but he says it's my responsibility and not his. He does not want it. It would cost him money to get rid. We've been stuck disagreeing about this since Feb.

    - I recently found out he never forwarded the rego bill to me months ago and I have been driving it unregistered. He angrily refused to find out any info so I could pay and told me he would call the police if I drove it. Thankfully the DOT gave me the info and I was able to re-register.

    - I'm now still driving this car I don't own, I don't know for sure how much finance repayments really are or when rego bills come and I'm realising I'm relying on him to honestly tell me when and what required costs are. Increasingly I feel like this situation cannot continue. This is my only way to transport the kids and get to work.

    My questions:

    Can I argue the $2000 refinance fee he wants to create is a joint debt that the equity he was given should have covered? Even if I could though, I don't think he has that money anymore.

    Should/could I just return the car to him and walk away?

    Would I be liable for wear and tear if it's returned? (There's some small scratches from car park door dings and the kids have stained the upholstery slightly in a patch but for 2+ years use it's very very reasonable).

    It's overdue a service. Should I do this before returning to him?

    I'm trying to find a legal and fair way to be able to have a secure car situation so any help would be so very much appreciated.
  2. Sophea

    Sophea Guest

    Hi Liss,

    This is a difficult situation to answer for you because, I think you already are aware that whilst the vehicle is not in your name legally you do not have full freedom and rights to deal with it. Therefore unless you can implicitly trust your ex to deal with the vehicle in the way you have agreed, then you are not in a secure position with respect to ownership or use (which you seem already aware). Therefore your quandary doesn't seem to be a legal one so much as a practical one. "Do you pay the $2000 for security, or persist in the present situation?" Or "Is your peace of mind worth $2000?" And whether or not the two of you should share the $2,000 fee is again something for negotiation between you. There are no hard and fast legal rules on this.

    Your only other option might be to write out a written agreement (such as a lease or licence) between you, stating your respective obligations with regard to the car so that at least it is something to work to and may be able to be enforced if necessary.

    Depending on when you divorced you may have the option of getting an order through the family court, however there are time limits on how long after you divorce you can apply for property settlement orders.

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