As I mentioned in the post, Sometimes Goodbye is Necessary to Really Live Life, there was $2,000 financial loss from the car that Mr. Mess gave back to me. The car was purchased for him, and he was the only one to ever drive it on a regular basis (I think I took it to work maybe twice under special circumstances). When we went to pick out and purchase the car he added options like the extended warranty and fabric protection that I was against and would never have gotten. However, he thought that they were important, and I allowed him to make the decision since it was HIS car.
Right… except for the fact that his credit was too bad to actually get the car in his name. I guess it was a good thing for him that he was married to someone whose credit score is 802. And a very bad thing for me, it would turn out.
That decision to put the new car in my name came only 6 months after we were married. I was naive and happy and in love. I trusted this man. Just 5 days later I would make a discovery of images that were disturbingly close to child pornography on his phone. I would uncover layers and layers of lies. We would start down the path of addiction counseling, therapy, 12-step groups, and marriage counseling. None of it would work. He would continue lying. And 2 years later I would still be regretting the decision to sign my name on that loan document.
Almost immediately after that nuclear DDay, talks began about getting the vehicle in Mr. Mess’s name. He tried at least 3 times to get a loan through his local credit union, a bank that he had been a member of for decade and where his sister had worked for over 20 years. Yeah… even they weren’t stupid enough to trust him with a loan. Time and again he was denied.
Sometimes it was because of the multiple bills he had in collection from before he met me. Sometimes it was due to his incredibly low income. Sometimes it was due to his ridiculously large debt to income ratio. Sometimes it was because his credit utilization was out of this world. Despite my advice about getting rid of those collection bills, never, ever using more than 50% of your credit lines, and all of the other tips that helped me get a credit score well above average, he never listened.
When we separated for good I let him know that he needed to get the car in his name or sell it to pay off the loan. He was always “working on it,” but nothing was ever done and no real effort was ever made. Finally, on the advice of my lawyer, I gave him until the end of 2012 to get it in his name or surrender the vehicle to me so that I could sell it. During that time I also became aware of the fact that he was smoking in the vehicle. I had always had suspicions (and raised them every time I got in the vehicle, as seldom as it was), but got confirmation after we were separated (something I wrote about here).
I started researching ways to sell the car considering its condition and the fact that all those “extras” he wanted had inflated the amount owned on the car beyond its value. As it became clearer and clearer that the car probably wasn’t going to sell for as much as was owed, I contacted Mr. Mess. I had exhaustively researched the options for selling it to a private party versus a dealership. I had a little more leverage for negotiating with a dealership, and it was much more complicated to sell to a private party when there was a lien on the vehicle and more owed on it than it was worth. On December 26th, Mr. Mess contacted me to say he would be dropping off the car that Friday. The following conversation occurred:
Me: If I lose money on the car because of the high mileage and smoking, what are you prepared to do (if anything) to help?
Him: I am willing to pay next months payment to give you a month to sell the car
Later that week, he texted me to let me know that he had dropped off the car. When I got home I found that he had washed it and put an air freshener in it. The unmistakable smell of cigarette smoke still permeated the entire vehicle, and there were some nice new pen marks all over the passenger seat. I took it immediately to the Nissan dealership to see what they could offer. In its condition, the amount they would give me was over two grand less than the loan. I texted him immediately to let him know. This is what followed:
Him: You can keep the entire tax return to help with that. I just don’t need to hear about it anymore.
Me: So I can keep the tax refund if there is one?
Him: Every bit of it
With that assurance, I was able to go to another dealership and get them to give me a little more for the trade-in if I purchased a car there. It took my loss to an even $2,000. I did that with the understanding that the tax refund had been promised to me. Last year it was about $4,000. This year it would probably be less since he completely raided his 401K, which meant that the taxes and early withdrawal penalties would all have to be paid from any refund due. I asked him to wait until the first of the year, but he refused to wait the few extra weeks… I figured that even if it wasn’t a $4,000 refund this year, at least his half of the return should cover a substantial chunk of the $2,000 loss.
So… that was the plan. Until last week. Then suddenly I got a text from him that said:
“Been thinking about the whole tax thing and have come to this conclusion. I am willing to help out with some of the cost of the car but I cannot put myself into a financial bind by giving you the entire return. I am sure we will be getting a pretty good sized return and i am willing to split it 70-30. If that isn’t good enough then we can just file separately.”
I was in the Social Security office at the time changing my name, so I didn’t see that text or a missed call from him until I was walking out of the building. I tried to call him back (less than 2 minutes after he had called me), but it went to voicemail. I then sent him the text:
“I need to recoup the $2K. That was your decision to add the extras and it was your car. I shouldn’t have to pay for your inability to get it in your name. Whether I agree to a 70/30 split will depend on the amount of the return.”
Ten minutes later, the following text exchange began:
Him: I don’t think you get it. The car was never legally mine it was your and Im saying we do a split of 70-30 or i am filing on my own. I don’t need your consent to do that.
Me: No but I can sue you for it in the divorce and go after you for my lawyer fees on the grounds of abandonment if you want to play hardball. My lawyer is more than capable of doing that. Especially because I have something in writing from you that I will get the whole tax refund. I’m trying to be reasonable but you put yourself in the situation where you are nearly 50 and couldn’t afford the car you wanted on your own. Not my fault. I am done paying for your mistakes literally and figuratively.
Him: You threw me out if anyone abandoned anyone it was you.
Me: I asked you to leave but you did and legally in the eyes of the court that is abandonment. Ask your lawyer. Words alone can’t force someone to give up and leave… legally what you did is abandonment. And I’m not afraid to use the law in my favor. I’m not being unreasonable I’m just not going to lose $2000 over the car you picked out and drove.
Him: You asked me to leave your house which you made clear was your house never our house. My name is nowhere on your mortgage.
Me: Nope and it doesn’t have to be for me to sue for abandonment. It would just be easier if you would agree to look at the tax refund before getting into some ridiculous back and forth. Already a portion will have to be used to pay your taxes and penalties because you withdrew money from your retirement account. Now you don’t want to give me what you agreed to in order to cover the car you wanted that I got stuck with because your job and credit are bad. I’m glad you aren’t willing to put yourself in a bad financial position but you don’t mind sticking me with your problems and putting me in one.
Him (2 days later): Give me a time and place you can get together and do the taxes.
That time will occur at some point this weekend. The place with be the office of a professional tax preparer. I am hoping that the location will help stop any irrational arguments that he might try to start. I’m hoping that he will be reasonable and we can get this done in a way that will be fair so I don’t get stuck holding the bag and paying the for his mistakes literally and figuratively once again. Keep your fingers crossed for me.