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I co-signed on a car loan with my partner, and now that we are no longer together I want to have my name removed. He has had the car a year now and has been on his job over an year, but he won't do the refinance to have my name removed, and I would like to know if there is something legally that I can do to have my name removed.

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    Is your name on the title? If yes then (1) you could bargain to exchange a quitclaim in exchange for having your name taken off the loan, or, rather more extreme, (2) you could investigate the possibility of simply taking the car. – Eric Lippert Feb 6 '15 at 17:57
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    Jay, please note that by co-signing, you are actually legally responsible for 100% of the debt. So if for some reason your ex-partner were to stop making payments, you could potentially have to take over the payments. Another reason to avoid these types of arrangements! – JAGAnalyst Feb 6 '15 at 23:47
  • @EricLippert You mentioned "Quitclaim" can you explain this more. This is the second time I heard of using a quitclaim deed and I would like to know what it is, how to go about using one, and how exactly would this help me. Yes my name is on the title, but I really don't want the car or anything to do with it. I just want to be done with the car all together simply because if my partner defaults on payment, being that we are no longer a couple, I don't want that dept coming back on me when i'm trying to move on and better myself. – Jay Alexander Feb 7 '15 at 18:59
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    A quitclaim is a simple legal document that says that you give up any claim on property that you appear to be entitled to. The usual context in which you see a quitclaim is when there's a divorce and one person gives up a claim to a house in exchange for no longer paying the mortgage. – Eric Lippert Feb 7 '15 at 19:24
  • @EricLippert Understood, now being that my partner was only able to get the car due to me co-signing would a quitclaim actually work? Maybe I'm still a little confused but I feel that maybe a quitclaim wouldn't work simply because I would be relinquishing my claim on the property and it was my claim or co-sign that made it possible for my partner to have the vehicle in the first place. – Jay Alexander Feb 7 '15 at 19:30
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You're not going to like the answer -- the only way to get your name off the loan is to have the loan paid off. Unless there was fraud involved (and from your description there wasn't), the lender isn't going to let you off the hook. The bank wants as much protection as it can get. That's why you co-signed in the first place.

If you can convince your ex to refinance, that's another option. If he stops making payments, the lender will come after you, unfortunately.

Whose name is on the car title? If it's both of you, your ex will have an incentive to refinance. Tell him you'll take your name off the title when he refinances the loan in his name alone.

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    yes, paid off, but also "refinanced". If the other borrower goes to his local bank and asks to refinance alone, that is the normal way. Not contradicting the answer, which is correct, just adding a process. – ssaltman Feb 6 '15 at 18:55
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    Totally agree that if the title includes both names, then the OP has much more leverage, including the potential to get 50% of the sale price of the car--something definitely worth bargaining away (if there was no corresponding outlay) for being released as co-signer. – ErikE Feb 6 '15 at 19:00
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The OP asks this follow-up question:

being that my partner was only able to get the car due to me co-signing would a quitclaim actually work?

Your situation is that you run the risk of your ex defaulting, leaving you on the hook. Your ex's situation is that he runs the risk of you exercising your legal rights to 50% ownership of that car. This is a risky situation for both of you.

My suggestion is that you make an offer: I will remove the risk of me claiming the car, and in exchange, you remove the risk of you defaulting.

The way you'd remove the risk of you claiming the car is by "quitting" your claim. You sign a piece of paper saying that you renounce any claim to the car, and now his risk of you suing him to get the car back drops to zero. In exchange, he agrees to remove your risk of his defaulting, by taking out a second loan to pay off the first loan -- a refinance.

So let's unpack your question:

being that my partner was only able to get the car due to me co-signing would a quitclaim actually work?

It's not 100% clear what you mean by "work". Would a quitclaim actually remove your ability to sue your ex over the car? Yes. The historical situation that led to you being a co-signer is irrelevant. Would a quitclaim actually be incentive to get your ex to agree to refinance? I don't know; only he can answer that question.

I feel that maybe a quitclaim wouldn't work simply because I would be relinquishing my claim on the property and it was my claim or co-sign that made it possible for my partner to have the vehicle in the first place

The fact that these things have a causal connection in your history is irrelevant. The lender didn't give you the loan because you and your ex wanted to drive around in a car; the lender gave you the loan because you were going to pay it back with interest. That's the deal you made with the lender; they don't care if you have any legal claim on the car, all they care about is that they can come after you for the money you owe them.

Again, let me make sure this is clear: quitting the claim does nothing directly to get your name off the loan. Rather, it is a bargaining chip to get your ex to agree to refinance, which does get you off the hook.

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I think that the conversation I would have is revolving around small claims court. This is where this matter gets dissolved if parties can't reach an agreement.

If your name is on the loan and you were in a relationship at the time of the loan then you own part of the car. In some states it helps that your name is on the title in some states it does not all. But just because your name isn't on the title doesn't mean that you have no stake in the car.

Basically whatever was paid for the car while you were in the relationship would be up in the air for shared value. A judge would determine if you two were sharing some costs (place of living, transportation, food, utilities). If you were there would be an implied contract given your name is on the loan. If your name is on the title it is really no contest. You don't even have to prove sharing costs.

So if your name is not on title - You still have a right to recover any money spent on car before the relationship ended. To the degree that a judge grants this depends. Worst case scenario is that the judge gives you nothing but in almost all cases they will demand refinancing as part of the agreement - since they do not want to hear about another civil suit a year later about the other party not paying for the car.

If your name is on the title - The worst case is your recover all of your costs which may be 50% of the amount spent on the car during the relationship. It may be that the judge requires a settlement of quit claim where you would admonish rights to the car for a given settlement and your name off the title. Depending on the lender they may not let your ex refinance or may just transfer the loan over into his name only (I have gone through this process for a car and house). It really depends on what status the loan is in and if lender would given them a new loan right now.

In some states if you file a quit claim your ex has to pay all of your attorney's fees which would be absolutely ridiculous to do unless this is a 200K car. Obviously I would not mention this to him because first of all it is a tactic that you can use to your advantage and second it is an unruly threat using archaic laws to your advantage.

So it is highly likely he will be made to refinance or sell the car. There is also a possibility that you could recover a good portion of the car's value. In Missouri for example if your name is on the title they take the car price minus loan price and give you half as a standard basis - no matter if you don't have a dime of money into the car.

I suggest you firmly mention that you will have to file a small claims suit if he can't refinance. Be civil about it. If you do have money invested into shared costs or directly to the car mention that too. If the talks aren't going anywhere during your second conversation (let him think this over and research) mention that almost surely the judge will have him refinance and possibly allocate part of the car's worth to yourself. The third conversation is giving him a copy of the filing with the court. Even after filing you don't have to go to court and often this wakes people up.

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    Just a quick question on small claims suits. I'll assume we're talking about the USA. Depending on the state (nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/…), the value limit of a claim in small claims court could be as low as $2,500 (Kentucky) or 10 times that much (Tennessee) with most seeming to fall in the $5,000-10,000 range. That could fall far short of what OP may be on the hook for. Is this still something that could be settled in small claims court? – Dennis Feb 6 '15 at 22:49
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    @Dennis - By the OPs question I am assuming that it will always be in scope since it seems that he is more interested in just releasing his name than recovery. Even if his name was on the title and that the car had for example a 20K surplus over loan and the state small claims max was 5K, you can still just file for 5K. If the OPs stance changed and he said that after hearing my options he wants money, then maybe advice changes. But still we are talking about a car with a loan and doubt he gets much more than most states allocate for small claims. – blankip_nosupport_for_monica Feb 6 '15 at 22:56
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    This may be a possibility if the car was purchase for shared use, but if it was simply a co-sign on the partner's car, it's a different matter. – JAGAnalyst Feb 6 '15 at 23:49
  • @blankip Thanks for your comment. I'm not looking for any money I'm just looking for a way to release my name from the loan and just leave the car to my EX. Now I have written a Demand Letter which covers my wishes to have the car refinanced out of my name, but I haven't sent it yet. I had a conversation with my EX yesterday and they told that they are going to try and purchase a new vehicle by trading the vehicle we own together and in doing so my name will be removed. Do you think this is a good idea, should I go with it, or should I just go ahead and take legal action? – Jay Alexander Feb 7 '15 at 20:08
  • @JayAlexander: You are being both wise and generous to not try to recover money in this unfortunate situation. Getting the law involved adds expense, it is more hassle for everyone, it adds risk, and it spends my taxpayer dollars on your private dispute. :-) If you can resolve the situation without going to the courts, that's what I would do. – Eric Lippert Feb 7 '15 at 22:34

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