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Can a parent be held responsible for an adult child?

(10 Posts)
DrMuffy Sun 05-Jun-11 15:01:11

I think the answer is likely no but I said I would ask.

Background: MIL was very trusting of someone she shouldn't have been. An old friend of hers (from years ago) got himself into financial difficulties and MIL took out a second mortgage on her house to help him out. There was no written contract between the two. He moved out of where he was living and in with her (platonically) while she helped him get back on his feet. One day he walked away. He left behind a car with money owing on it - MIL was harassed by some loan-shark type and had to get the car taken away. He left behind various electronic things. Literally, he took what he could carry.

Very soon after this, SIL was in contact with the ex-friend and he promised he would pay back the money (about 50,000 pounds). He said he would put a lien on his property, whatever it took, he would pay it back. We are not positive that he owned that property to begin with. I guess he got used to his new debt-free life and disappeared again. We have no idea where he is or if he's working or anything.

MIL has been to solicitors but they say it is a civil matter because there was no written contract. If she can find him then she can sue him or get his wages docked.

This all happened 5 years ago.

The only info we know is where his mother lives. She is about 70/80 years old now. We're not in the habit of scaring little old ladies, but at the same time, MIL has had a few health and mental issues over the past few years because of what this ex-friend has done. She is forking over 300 pounds per month to cover the interest on the mortgage she took out to discharge his debts.

Is there a way that his mother can be held responsible for his debt? By putting a lien on her house perhaps?

Or, as an alternative, is there a way to find someone that doesn't want to be found?

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 05-Jun-11 15:29:24

You could try using a private investigator to find the baddie (and sue him when/if he inherits), but no, you cannot chase his mum for £50k.

darleneoconnor Sun 05-Jun-11 15:41:41

do what other creditors do and use a debt collection agency

Earlybird Sun 05-Jun-11 15:46:24

Sadly, MIL was very naive to trust this person and to give the money with no written agreement - but suppose she knows that now.

My guess is that she'll never see the money again. 'Old friend' could continue to avoid/deny, or worse, could say the money was a gift and not a loan. No paperwork makes it impossible to prove either way.

How long has it been since anyone has seen or spoken to 'old friend' ?

Earlybird Sun 05-Jun-11 15:50:02

Oh - and wouldn't think his mother could be held legally//financially responsible in any way unless she co-signed a document stating she'd share responsibility or acted as guarantor on the loan/debt.

And, i'm sure it is obvious I'm not a lawyer......so someone more knowledgeable might tell you differently.

DrMuffy Sun 05-Jun-11 16:06:35

Thanks everyone, that's pretty much what we thought. Grasping at straws, really.

Earlybird, it's been 5 years less a few months since anyone was in contact with him. Immediately after he left he was almost reasonable about it, and since then we haven't been able to find him. His mother has been doing a 'not my problem' thing, won't tell us where he is or anything. A few weeks ago he popped up on Facebook and I sent him a message, trying to appeal to any thread of decency he might have; he blocked me so I can't see him anymore.

Earlybird Sun 05-Jun-11 16:20:35

Hmm - a similar thing happened to my sister. She and her dh loaned a substantial sum to an old friend who was in difficulties. Now, many years on, it is clear this 'friend' isn't able to pay back the money or has no intention of doing so. It is very upsetting to realise you have been gullible (in spite of the best intentions), and to realise that some people behave in this way (personally, don't know how they live with themselves).

How did your Mum give him the money? Bank transfer, cheque - please don't say cash! Is there any sort of 'paper trail'?

In your shoes, i might get another friend/family member to quietly follow him on Facebook (without ever sending a message) just so you can keep up with where he is and what he is doing. It might give you some indication if he is living in a shack or taking exotic holidays, which in turn could perhaps indicate his ability to repay (willingness is obviously a whole other matter).

DrMuffy Sun 05-Jun-11 16:44:36

Earlybird, I think she gave him a cheque. She has a copy of the cheque or the bank transfer, whatever it was, showing that she gave him the money, and there were a few months of him starting to pay it back. And then he just stopped.

It seems he has either hidden his profile on FB or has deleted his account completely. Nobody can see him at all now, and even when I could see him I could only see his profile pic, no details on where he was, what he was doing, anything useful at all. Just his smug face. Made me want to put my fist through the computer screen. angry

Xenia Sun 05-Jun-11 17:23:10

Be very very conscious that contract claims must be brought within 6 years under the Limitation Act 1980 so you're going to have get your skates on possibly if we're arguing there was an "agreement" that he would pay back the £50k and put a charge on the house.

If you have his name search him on google and also 123.com,. Pay for 123 credits if you need to > That has the electoral role on and also if he is a company director.

As EB says look for the old paper trail too b ecause if you can't prove it may all be a waste of time and if he has no money then.

If you paid an investigator they could probabyl also find him through his mother. You need to find out if he does own any property or have any money. Then you need to write to him demanding the total sum due which is presuambly £50k less his repayments - and perhaps interest.

If the 6 years is up and there is a chance the money could never be recovered so you might find you haev to issue a court claim in the next few months just to stop that time running.

babybarrister Mon 06-Jun-11 10:24:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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