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Senior Partner
Senior Partner, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 13329
Experience:  Solicitor with more than 30 years experience
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Hi, my son and his ex girlfriend have a joint bank account.

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Hi, my son and his ex girlfriend have a joint bank account. The account has an overdraft which they used to rent a flat. They split up a couple of months later, whilst they were together, his ex used a lot of the overdraft for her own personal use. They have been in dispute over who owes the debt for the last 5 years. My son's ex sent him a letter from the citizens advice bureau demanding that he pays half of the debt (she s been paying the minimum amount and is also wanting back payment). I realise that my son is also legally obliged to pay towards this debt, but i'd like to know whether he could argue in court to pay only what he's used or is he expected to pay half ?
Hi thank you of your question. As you have already gathered the legal position is that both account holders are liable to the bank for the overdraft. The bank can actually ask either party for the whole amount and leave the account holders to sort it out. So in theory they could come after your son for 100% and leave him to try and recover half from his ex. It sounds as if the bank are in fact in contact with her to seek recovery.
The position with the bank is clear legally. Between the two account holders the position is also pretty clear. If there is no agreement otherwise then they are each liable for 50%. It is possible to show that this is not the case either because of an express agreement or one evidenced by the facts. In this case your son would need to show that there was an agreement that the person who incurred the debt was liable of it. If they just jointly put money in and then spent it on both common items such as the rent and personal items then it may be hard for him to show this.
However if she claims debts incurred for purchases were joint liabilities then equally the assets purchased are joint and he is entitled to a half share of the assets - she cannot have it both ways.
So I am afraid it is not black and white and depends very much on what was agreed. If it comes down to his word against hers then it is difficult to say how a court will react.
If I can clarify further please let me know.
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