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How To Apply For A Court Ordered Vehicle Title

  • 11 min read

So what is a court ordered vehicle title and how can it help you obtain a legal title document?

When you don’t have the proper paperwork to apply to the DMV if you’ve purchased a vehicle and either didn’t get a title when you bought it or maybe you did get the title and it was lost or damaged, one thing about a title certificate, if you look at all the scroll work and all the the watermarks it says right on it if there’s any erasures, corrections, cross outs or damage, that title is void if you’ve lost a title or its damage or maybe you bought it and didn’t never got a title with the purchase, a court-ordered title is one option that you may be able to use in your jurisdiction there’s 3611 counties in the country, most of them allow for a court order title and we’re going to go through the basics of a court order title, how it works, what the steps are in general. 

Now every county has a little bit different procedures but it’ll give you a good idea of what to do. Here’s an example from North Dakota we’ll also look at an example from Ohio and how they’re similar and how you can do that in your state. So the North Dakota court system has a process for petitioning the court to award title to a motor vehicle, so if you have this award from the court you can go into DMV, slap it down on the counter and they’ll give you a title.

First thing to understand is when you represent yourself in the court you have to use the same procedures as any other court participant even if you don’t understand them, if you’re unsure you may want to consult a lawyer, you probably don’t need to but they have to give you that, also the court can’t help you, the court clerk cannot assist you with the process and in fact nobody can really assist you.

This is the legal self-help center and it says right here it’s not legal advice but only as a general guide to civil court process, so how does it work first of all in most entities if you’re a legal entity such as a business or corporation. You will be awarded title to the motor vehicle if the petition is granted.

Consult an attorney if that’s the case, overview when an individual is unable to obtain a title through the process set out by them, this case, most states is DMV, the individual may petition court to award title, so basically what it says is if the DMV can’t give you a title because your documentation is insufficient or doesn’t meet their guidelines, they are not allowed at the DMV to make exceptions either you have the paperwork you need or you don’t and if you don’t have exactly what they need at the DMV don’t blame it on them they’re not allowed to give you a title it’s not their fault but this court process is designed to fix that for you before starting the court process.

Try to get a title from the DMV you may be able to obtain the title without petitioning the court, you want to do this first because the court’s going to ask you, did you try to get a title at the DMV and if you didn’t they’re just going to send you back here. 

So, what do you do, let’s back up what are definitions, what is a motor vehicle, what are the laws it tells you, what the laws are also gives you in the package step-by-step of the process.

Step one, gather the documentation at minimum, you must prove the following to the court what steps you took to obtain a title, did you go to DMV, did you try to contact the prior owner.

Did you try to get a lien release and what proof do you have that is your vehicle, do you have a bill of sale, do you have a receipt, do you have proof that you paid it the court, will make the decision on whether or not to grant you the court order title based on what you present to them, if it’s just verbal you might not prevail as much as if you have documentation if you have halfway decent documentation that you purchased a vehicle that you at least made a good faith effort to get a title you’ll probably get a court-ordered title. The only problem is if the vehicle is reported stolen if it has any liens, if there’s any salvage that might hold up your vehicle title.

Second, is you have to create and prepare legal documents that means you have to actually prepare summons to apply to court. This is the hardest part of a court order title there is no blank form that you just fill in the blanks like you would for a DMV application or other title application you have to start with a blank sheet of paper and create a petition, the petition describes you the plaintiff is entitled to relief and a specific request for that relief basically you’re saying I want a title for my vehicle at minimum this petition must include the following statements of the subject matter, what are the laws, why is this particular court relevant, what’s the jurisdiction statement of why the county is the proper venue statement of the reasons you’re bringing the petition, what steps you took to obtain the title.

References to your documentation request for relief tell the court what you want them to do this is very important, you have to tell them exactly what you want, I want a court order title then you have to sign it the signature also verifies the correctness and truth of that petition you can’t lie, you can’t make up fake facts, yeah it has to be true again this is not legal advice this is what the court requires.

Here’s another thing that can help if you’re unsure about the format of a petition in your country, pull a couple old court cases from the county that have nothing to do with, and see what the format of the petition is, that will help to have a template of what to do when to have to serve the copies on the on the respondent the court the DMV and you’ll get a court date there’ll be an $80 filing fee this is in north Dakota.

Most states are between you know $20 $30 $50  most of them are more than $100 and then after the petition filed you’re going to get a date where you have to appear in court, present evidence, hear what you have to say they may do some research on the vehicle and if it’s completed they’ll give you a court order.

Fill in the name of the county name of the district case number that’s all for this form right here we’ll have a lot of these forms on our website here’s an example of one filled so you can see how it looks again it says right here this example is provided for general formatting purposes only gives you an idea not an exact you don’t make a copy this and send it in.

So what about Adams counter example for court order title please recognize that there could be no assurance that a court order title will be granted the court doesn’t automatically give these out the decision depends on the court finding that you have presented sufficient evidence to establish your claim that you’re entitled to possession and ownership of the vehicle.

Look in most cases if you are looking to file for a court or title you believe that you are entitled to the vehicle make sure that you have evidence to support that just because you know you’re supposed to have the vehicle the court doesn’t know any of your prior story you know what you’ve been through in the last year you have a bill of sale you tried to contact the owner you have a receipt you have all this, you know your story make sure you’re able to communicate that story to the court the properly issued motor vehicle certificate the title is the primary evidence of ownership if you have, if you don’t have that a judge can order the clerk of courts of the title office to issue you a title.

Here are circumstances that might cause the court to do that when you have purchased a vehicle but the previous owner has failed refused or unable to furnish you with a properly assigned title.

When you have been given a vehicle left in your possession but the previous owner didn’t give you a title if you’re owner of a repair garage or storage facility of a vehicle more than $3500 that’s another example.

If you believe that those rules apply to your scenario there are certain steps you’ll need to take in every instance before a co-order title you have to try to make an application at the title office just like we saw in North Dakota you have to attempt to get a title first if that doesn’t work if the application is denied then you can go to the court order title process if the evidence is sufficient to establish your right you will be given a letter authorizing the title office to issue a title in your name so that is the same scenario and it talks about some of the steps you might need to take.

First you need to do a lien search then you need to do a vehicle owner search this is going to cost five bucks then you need to send certified mail to the lien holder and owner using the information provided by these searches. You can’t just send a certified mail to an address that you found in the glove compartment or that the owner told you you have to send it to the addresses that the bureau gave you the DMV gave you then you have to get an inspection on the vehicle.

Step four, then you have to file the petition with the court civil case will be opened when you submit the copies in the affidavit just like we saw before and then the court will rule on your petition they’ll either say yes or no if granted you will be mailed a certified copy of the judgement to present to the title office.

But in most cases if your evidence is sufficient and there’s nothing that objects to it like there’s not an another owner that says, no that’s my car you can’t have it or a lien holder that says no that’s my car you can’t have it most likely you’re going to get that title and it gives you some information here this is one particular county in Ohio but this process is similar to every county in Ohio in reality almost all states use the same process what you will find though is this particular breakdown of the Ohio process is probably the most detailed and described you’re going to find most states don’t even tell you any information on how to do it even if you went into the court in person they’re not going to tell you what to do because quite frankly most courts don’t see a whole lot of these court order title events they see the worst cases small claims cases, dog bite cases, you know probate cases they see these all the time.

This is a good overview, they have a whole section on our website about court order titles. It’s one of many methods you can use to get a title you may want.

To look at another method that might not be as complicated because these court methods you probably have to show up in court three or four times over the course of seven or eight months to have this done, so you may want to look at something like a bonded title or vt transfer prior to contact some of the other methods we described on our website either way, it’s a good backup method for you to use if you have insufficient documents and you want to have the court force the DMV to give you a title if they’re not helping you with the documentation you’ve already presented.

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