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by Abigail Van Buren

Mother-Daughter Relationship Is Toppled by Mountain of Debt

DEAR ABBY: Three years ago, I lent my daughter and her husband $35,000 so they could purchase a home. I told them that they could pay me back when they were financially able. (No mention was made about "interest.")

After two years, there was nothing said about repaying the loan, so I asked them when they intended to pay me back. They just looked at each other, then changed the subject. By the way, their combined incomes come close to $100,000 annually.

Now they tell me that they considered the money a gift, and they will not be paying it back! Needless to say, we are not speaking. Is there anything I can do to get my money back? Can I take them to court? -- BESIDE MYSELF IN SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR BESIDE: Can you take them to court? Of course you can, but in the absence of a written note stating that the $35,000 was a loan, you not only bought them a house -- you bought yourself a headache. Your first order of business: Call your lawyer.