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I helped my now ex get into school by co-signing a loan. I have made great attempt on contacting her through friends and family. She has left the state and won't talk to me about our responsibilities. I already know I am just as responsible as she is with the loan. Is there anything I can do legally to get her to contact me to get this paid off? Or am I just stuck paying the next 10 years with her free of any responsibility?

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Is there anything I can do legally to get her to contact me to get this paid off?

You could try and sue her for the money. This way you don't have to speak to each other. Instead you both speak to a judge.

She mightn't be legally obliged to make payments to the loan company, but if she told you that she'd pay it, she may have a legal obligation to pay you. Verbal contracts are contracts after all.

I imagine the conversation was effectively:

"Jordon, I'm filling in my student loan application and I need a cosignatory, will you put your name down?"
"I don't have to pay anything, do I?
"No, of course not. I'll be making the payments, it's my degree."

Depending on the value of the loan (or the value you want to recoup), you might be able to go through small claims court where you don't need as much proof to get a judgement.

I'd also look at having yourself removed from the loan, but I'm afraid I don't know much about that.

To quote Judge Judy: "Never co-sign on a loan!" Learn your lesson, don't do it again :)

  • If the lawsuit is successful, you can start the collections process, and if done well it will affect her credit history. – Adam Davis Aug 14 '15 at 18:02
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    I can't imagine this being a positive step in any way, unfortunately, unless she has plenty of money and is just being spiteful. It's unlikely to recover anything, and it's more likely to simply irritate people and cost you money. – Joe Aug 14 '15 at 18:41
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    @Joe: You can also see it as being altruistic toward people/companies who might otherwise consider loaning her money in the future. – Nate Eldredge Aug 16 '15 at 2:18
  • @NateEldredge You could also see it as being altruistic toward attorneys who would be the ultimate beneficiary of such an action I suppose ;) – Joe Aug 16 '15 at 16:31
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Basically, yes, you're stuck paying the next ten years. If this is your ex-wife, and divorce proceedings are not yet finalized, you should talk to your lawyer about how to get it handled as part of that, but it sounds like that isn't the case here.

Even if there were legal means to force her to pay the loan off, unless she's got the money it's unlikely you'd ever be able to collect (and, nearly always unless there was a written contract ahead of time, you wouldn't be able to win that anyway). So you'd just be out the cost of filing and the laywer's fees, and likely not collecting a penny.

  • I wish there was more that could be done. I just don't find it fair how her credit will stay good because I'm paying for the loan.. And she knows that I will pay for it because I want my credit to stay good. Glad I could support a drop out. I'd feel better about the whole thing if I at least it helped somebody graduate. Thanks for the advice though. – Jordon Aug 14 '15 at 15:45
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    If it were me, and the money was a big deal, I would probably ask her parents, assuming they had any money, to help. If they don't, of course, that's not an option, but certainly I would help pay on behalf of my children if they screwed someone over (maybe not 100%, but what I could). – Joe Aug 14 '15 at 15:52
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    "divorce proceedings are not yet finalized" excellent point. And obviously, this only applies if married. The hint being one shouldn't cosign for a boyfriend/girlfriend as there's little recourse in those situations. – JoeTaxpayer Aug 14 '15 at 16:07
  • Yeah... I avoided talking about that as I don't really want to seem judgemental, and in many situations it may seem reasonable to do, especially in this day and age of people waiting longer and longer to marry. Still a bad idea without a signed contract/etc., but honestly - what would you do even if that existed? Almost certainly not going to be able to collect, even if it is your wife (though of course hopefully it would be worth getting something out of it in divorce proceedings). – Joe Aug 14 '15 at 16:20
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    @Jordon It is fair. That's exactly what co-signing a loan means. When you co-sign you're saying, "If anything goes wrong don't worry, I'll pay it for them." – MiniRagnarok Aug 14 '15 at 20:12
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I would try to leverage your contact with her friends and family. You do not have to pay a lawyer a single dime to threaten a lawsuit.

As mentioned by James Webster, verbal contracts do have the force of the law behind them. Any judge evaluating your claims in court would use the standard of how a reasonable person would interpret the contract. You can even go to small claims and represent yourself without hiring a lawyer. In order to serve notice you will need an address. In order to obtain that address you can file a "Request for Change of Address or Boxholder Information Needed for Service of Legal Process" form at the local post office.

It is almost always better to settle these issues out of court, but often that requires a credible threat that it will end up in court if a sufficient resolution isn't reached.

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You may have some success contacting the lender about the situation. This may help you accomplish two things.

1- The lender does care about who is paying the loan and it can affect her credit if they know that the primary borrower has defaulted. You will want to close the account- -if it is a revolving account, so that she cannot continue to run up the balance while you pay it down. (the lender may not feel obligated to help you, but they will want to protect themselves from future risk against a bad borrower.)

2-You may also be able to negotiate better terms, or a reduced pay-off amount if you can afford to make a lump sum payment. It would be in your best interest to transfer the loan to an account with only your name on it. Even if she reaps the benefit of having good credit she cannot use you further.

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