My ex husband & I purchased a car for our 16 year old daughter. We paid 50/50,$7,800 each. Because he owed me money he said he would title it in his name so he would pay insurance. I was reluctant but he said “you still own 1-2 no matter what”.

I just said that all I wanted was to make sure if our daughter ever wanted new car that we both agree to that & all money from selling it go to her for car. He said sure. I also asked that if ever either of us decided we didn’t want her driving (due to bad weather, late at nights ex) or wanted to take the car away for the weekend because she was irresponsible, or whatever the case may be, he agreed we both had that right.

2 weeks later I told her she could not drive because of the weather. He came & picked up the car & said “not up to you...I own it. SUCKER” my friends tell me I’m just that a sucker & have no recourse. I’m thinking if I sue clearly a judge will know I didn’t pay for half my ex’s car!!! So maybe could have it re-titled in both of our names OR request he buy me out? Because here now he has almost 16k car & telling me “thanks” & saying he’s in control. So when she goes to college he get to do with it what he wants. I have the receipt & we had a verbal agreement. Am I screwed?

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    Generally speaking, if it is not in writing it didn't happen. I would not classify you as a "sucker". Perhaps you should not have trusted him, but you helped provide a car for your daughter. That counts. Given your version of events, it is unlikely that he would be willing to have it re-titled. Is he really willing to take the car from his daughter?
    – Pete B.
    Feb 19, 2019 at 19:02
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    @PeteB. Verbal contracts are still legally binding, but they are harder to prove - you basically have to present your evidence to a judge and he/she decides how to resolve the matter. If you have proof that you paid half, it would bolster your case. All that to say that this is a legal matter, not a financial one.
    – D Stanley
    Feb 19, 2019 at 19:11
  • Especially for legal questions, always specify the relevant jurisdiction. Stack Exchange has users all around the world.
    – user
    Feb 20, 2019 at 14:30

1 Answer 1


In principle, a verbal contract is just as binding as a written contract. The catch is that it can be difficult to prove what was said. Unless you have witnesses, it would just be your word against his. As DStanley says in the comments, if you have proof that you paid half -- canceled checks or receipts or whatever -- that would be evidence that there was some sort of agreement.

Whether your daughter is allowed to drive the car on a specific day depends not just on who owns the car but who has legal custody of your daughter. If a friend of hers said that it is okay with him for her to drive his car to a wild party where there will be drugs and an orgy, the fact that he has full title to the car does not mean that her parents have no right to tell her she can't go! You didn't say what the custody arrangements are, but if you have full custody or shared custody, this would give you certain rights to tell her what she is and is not allowed to do.

  • The courts typically don't interpret things that family members say as being "contracts", so that line of reasoning would not go anywhere.
    – user6726
    Feb 21, 2019 at 0:47
  • @user6726 But that's ex husband, so no family member anymore.
    – Greendrake
    Feb 21, 2019 at 1:03
  • @user6726: I think that's an overgeneralization. Family members make agreements all the time, and generally they are enforcable (though there may be exceptions).
    – sleske
    Feb 21, 2019 at 8:08
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    If you tried to sue your wife because she promised to wear that red dress you like if you took her to a fancy restaurant and then she didn't, or sue your parents because they agreed to buy you the latest video game console if you mowed the lawn, yeah, I doubt the courts would seriously hear such a case. That is not at all the same as discussing custody issues after a divorce. The terms of a legal separation or divorce are routinely discussed in court, and disagreements over how to raise the children after a divorce routinely end up in court.
    – Jay
    Feb 21, 2019 at 15:23

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