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Dear Dr. Don,

This is a tale of mistakes. I made the mistake of co-signing a mortgage with my daughter-in-law. She has been 30 days late or more on these payments 18 times in the past 3 years. It caused my credit to be a mess. Now it is apparent that their marriage was also a big mistake. My son and daughter-in-law are getting a divorce. He’s not even on the mortgage.

Can I sue them or evict them from the house? What are my options to work to repair my credit?

Thank you,

— Robert Regrets

Dear Robert,

Thanks for sharing your story with us. I’m hoping you can find a path toward success over time. Your story can also help others learn what not to do.

I understand that your name is on the loan. Are you also on the deed? In my world, “co-sign” is a 4-letter word. Even if you are on the deed, it appears unlikely that you’d be able to evict your daughter-in-law, who is the other co-owner.

Time is needed for repairing credit

Your credit can’t be saved, only rebuilt at this point. With your damaged credit history, time can heal the wounds if you’re willing to work at it. Negative information remains on credit reports 7 years after the 1st reporting. The duration is 10 years for Chapter 7 bankruptcies.

Your ability to sue to recover payments you made is something that should be discussed with an attorney. It is understandable why you are mad and frustrated about the late payments. Have you tried having a discussion with your daughter-in-law to learn why she’s late with the payments? I understand that might be additionally complicated if the marriage has failed.

Plenty of troubles to go around

She will ultimately need to rebuild her credit, too. That will become increasingly difficult because of the divorce.

Because of her poor payment history and extracting you as the co-signer for the future, your daughter-in-law will face hurdles trying to refinance into a new mortgage. The good news is that Federal Housing Administration loans come with lower credit score requirements compared with conventional mortgages.

1 solution: Sell the house

It may be a better solution to sell the house. After that, everyone can move on and work to repair their credit. Then, only bad memories will remain.

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