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My partner and I have this car and both names are on the title. The car is paid off to the dealer, but right before it was paid off my partner got in trouble and had to do 6 months in prison. The court put a lien on the car for fees he owes the court. I understand it cannot be sold until he pays these fees off. I ended my relationship with him 3 years ago and I kept the vehicle.

I have been able to renew my tags in the past. When I went to renew the tags on Friday, Motor Vehicles told me I couldn't renew the tags because my partner bought a car and it was impounded and he was being charged $500 for abandon fees. He does not have a license because it was suspended so he can't get his car out.

My question is: is there anything I can do to have his name removed so I can get my tags? They will expire at the end of June. Can I talk to Motor Vehicles and ask them, or can I maybe talk to a judge and see if he can order it to be removed? I asked him to pay the $500 fee and he said no. I can't force him to pay it and I don't have the money to pay it off. Or am I just screwed? Please help me with this mess.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this belongs on Law.SE. – RonJohn Jun 30 at 1:09
  • Can you clarify if there is still a lien on the title from the unpaid fees you mention in your first paragraph, and/or any other liens? – dwizum Jul 1 at 12:54
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If his name is on the title, he (shared) owns the car. You cannot one-sided remove him from that, he needs to agree.

If he agrees, you both together (current owners) can sell the car to you alone (future owner), and you get a new title with only you. There is probably a short-cut to that, like a quit-deed, but certainly not without his agreement (or a court order).

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You can always march down to the finance company, hand them a check, and boom the car is paid off as far as the finance company is concerned. That may have already happened. Until it does, the finance company has a lien on the car.

Now, the government also has a lien on the car. There are many ways to sell a car; some of them are managed by competent financiers who know how to settle liens on the car, because they buy cars that still have loans. Of course those people give you less money than a private sale on Craiglist. Suppose the car sells for $3000 and the liens are $1000. That means you get a check for $2000 instead of $3000. This will happen automagically if you trade-in the car on a newer car, but as said, you get less and pay more than a private sale. The dealer will do whatever it takes to get you out of that car and put you in another car in a way that's compatible with your cash flow, and he charges you for that indirectly.

You will need his consent to sell the car because you are two unaffiliated people who bought a car together. Unfortunately, you didn't go from "married" to "divorced", so the usual legal protections will not operate here. Don't do it again!

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