Can I get my ex to pay back £3,500 credit card bill?

I’ve recently split from my boyfriend of two years and have been left with a huge credit card bill of his creation.

The credit card is in my name but I paid for his clothes, dinners and holidays on his word that he would pay me back when he can afford to. I trusted him to do so but that day never came.

I’ve lent him a little over £3,000 but I’ve calculated that it’s more like £3,500 once the interest is taken into account.

Is there any way of getting him to pay back what he owes?

Name and address supplied 

Break-ups can be difficult and dismantling a shared financial life can exacerbate the situation

Myron Jobson for This is Money, replies: The end of a relationship is often a difficult and emotional experience. 

As hard as it is to face the tough stuff when your emotions are all over the place, having to dismantle a shared financial life can exacerbate the situation. 

That £3,500 is a considerable sum to be owed by an ex and the amount will unfortunately continue to attract interest if it’s not paid off.

The good news is, you may be able to recoup your cash if even your ex continues to abscond from his debt responsibilities.

We asked a lawyer who specialises in civil disputes to spell out what your options are.

Mark Woloshak, a principal lawyer in Slater and Gordon’s dispute resolution team in Cardiff, says: Lending money to those close to you can be a risky business. When you’re buying a house or borrowing from a bank everything is put in writing, but ask your other half to do that and it can quickly become awkward, particularly if it’s for a small amount. 

The difficulty arises when this happens on a regular basis and it starts to add up to a real problem.

Get financial help from our experts 

Suffering from a financial problem? One of our experts may be able to help. Email with the details you wish to disclose

I have sympathy with the reader and can offer her a little hope of getting her money back, if she is able to prove that the clothes, dinners and holidays she bought for her ex were loans and not gifts.

A loan agreement is the same as any contract and, although an oral contract is as valid as a written one, the trouble with an oral contract is there is often a lack of evidence to support the lender’s claim.

She is entitled to sue him in the county court, but unless such documentary evidence exists then it is her word against that of her ex – who may allege all goods were bought as gifts.

Texts and emails count as evidence 

Evidence doesn’t have to be an official document, however, but can be a text, email or even a conversation with a third party that shows her former partner intended to pay her back. 

If loans have been made and repaid before in the course of their relationship, she may also be able to use this to show a pattern of behaviour.

If, as she has stated, he has promised to pay her back when he can afford to, unless his financial circumstances have changed then he may still not be in a position to repay her and would not be breaching the loan agreement by refusing to do so.

In this scenario and if her ex had no other assets, she could then end up incurring the cost of court proceedings but be unable to recover the borrowed cash.

However awkward or uncomfortable it may feel at the time, it is advisable for anyone who intends to loan a significant amount to their other half to ask for the terms of that loan to be confirmed in a document signed by both parties.

If there are concerns about the other party’s ability to repay the loan, a guarantee from his or her parents could be asked for. 

Please note that any guarantee must be in writing to be valid. I appreciate, however, that in a relationship, approaching your partner’s parents or even suggesting the same can be very difficult.