Don’t co-sign unless you’re prepared to pay

Q. In October my boyfriend purchased a car and I co-signed. We broke up, and he moved out of state and took the car. He has been sending me payments, and so far everything is fine. I was wondering, from a legal standpoint is there anyway I can take him to court to get my name off the note?

A. As I have said many times before, don’t co-sign unless you are prepared to pay. Unless the creditor agrees to change the note, there is nothing you can do to get your name off the note unless he agrees to refinance in his own name. The creditor is not going to just let you take your name off the note. That is why they asked for you to co-sign in the first place. In fact, if he stops paying, they probably will just go after you rather than chasing down the car in another state. My advice is to try to get him to refinance in his own name as soon as possible. If you do have to pay, you have the right to go after him to be reimbursed.

Q. If a contractor does not finish a job, how long do I have to wait to take them to small claims court? Is there a certain amount of money I can sue for?

A. Unless your agreement with the contractor says otherwise, you must give him a “reasonable time” to complete the work. What is a reasonable time depends on the nature of the work and other factors such as the availability of materials and the weather. In my opinion, a few weeks are usually a reasonable time for most small repair or construction projects. I suggest you send the contract a letter, certified mail and an e-mail asking when the job will be completed. Let them know that unless they tell you when they will complete the project, or why there has been a delay, you will file a claim in small claims court. If he doesn’t respond, my opinion is you can get someone else to complete it, and sue for any additional costs or money paid for work not completed. Small claims court may hear claims of $10,000 or less.

Q. My employer requires a doctor’s note or our sick day will be credited as a vacation day. Usually, when I am sick a trip to the doctor is not necessary. I now have to go to the doctor and incur these costs, when it really isn’t necessary. Is this legal?

A. Basically, as far as the law is concerned, your employer establishes the rules and you have to follow them. There is no requirement your employer give you paid sick days or vacation days. If the employer gives you these days, it has the right to establish the requirements for eligibility.

Q. Can I be arrested for not paying my credit card bill? The debt collector said he is sending the police out to my house if I don’t promptly pay.

A. You cannot be arrested if you don’t pay your credit card bill! There is no debtor’s prison in Texas. If you don’t pay the money you owe you may be sued, but you cannot be put in jail. In fact, the threat to throw you in jail for not paying your bills violates both federal and state debt collection laws. For more information about what may happen if you don’t pay your bills and your rights under our debt collection laws, visit my Web site, www.peopleslawyer.net.

Pick up a copy of the latest edition of “Know Your Rights!,” available online or at your local bookstore.

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