Dear Driving for Dollars,

My ex-husband bought our son a car. The title is in my name, with my ex-husband listed as the lien holder. How long does a lien holder have to stay on the title?

— JoAnn

Dear JoAnn,

A lien holder stays on a car title for as long as there is a lien on the car. A person (or company) listed on a car title as a lien holder means that this person — in this case your ex-husband — is owed money on the car. The lien holder is expected to release the lien as soon as the loan is paid in full.

If there’s no personal loan, then it would seem that your ex-husband has listed himself as a lien holder because he expects some payment when the car is sold. Regardless, the only way to get the lien holder removed is for the lien holder to sign the title itself or, in some states, he can complete a department of motor vehicles, or DMV, form that releases the lien and gives you a clear title.

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