- Centurion Member
- Posts: 757
- Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2015 2:08 pm
My take on the grandmother / granddaughter Lowe's card debacle...
You said that there was no written contract, merely an oral contract (at best) between your mother and your daughter. As far as I've understood it, your daughter has abided by the terms and held up her end of the agreement. Your mother, on the other hand, has decided to make a one-sided change to the agreement (this is assuming your daughter is not in "default" and has not missed any payments or made any payments late). This is inequitable. Your daughter gets nothing and your mother gets everything (relatively speaking).
Here comes the complication... Small claims court is at the mercy of the clerk or clerk magistrate that you end up with (or, more accurately, get stuck with). I have extensive experience in small claims and it is truly, as they say, a "kangaroo court". Some magistrates make some mild attempt to say they will follow the law, some blatantly tell you they will do what they think is right regardless of law and some actually do follow the law.
All that being said, here is how I think things would shake out in small claims depending on the position that your daughter takes....
Your mother **technically** has to prove that the entire debt is due and owing now or already sometime in the past (which is obviously impossible...unless your daughter admits that - which seems unlikely as you've indicated that is not the case). Given that she cannot, the court will have to work with your daughter's word on what was agreed upon. She can take two (or more I suppose) paths. One, tell them it was to be paid over X months in $Y equal payments. Two, I never agreed to pay her back, it was a present. The latter causes two problems (despite your mother's poor decision to make this a legal issue). One is that it's not true and two is that your daughter has presumably made at least one payment which your mother can potentially prove and a magistrate will take to mean everything your daughter says is suspect.
It is my opinion that technically, by bringing her to court, your mother voids all obligation under the oral agreement she had with your daughter. She is leveraging the court to make an inequitable alteration to an agreement that has not been breached by your daughter and, thus, she is breaching it. Small claims, however, is like the Wild West. I would be very surprised if the court ordered the money due immediately and issued a judgment. I think the most likely outcome is some sort of off the record payment agreement whereby the court offers an extension on the case to presume to control the payments and ensure they are made, but no judgment is entered and no official agreement either.
If I were the clerk, I'd dismiss the case and absolve your daughter from paying your mother. And not on principle, but because legally that is what is called for.
Good luck. Long post. Let me know if anything is incomprehensible or confusing.
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