Case Study: Mum & Dad gifts to a couple

Dr Maree Livermore
Founder & CEO

Harry’s Mum and Dad transferred a parcel of vacant land into Harry and Amber’s joint names during their marriage. The idea was that the parents would eventually build a house on the land, and that Harry and Amber would look after them there when they got older. Amber got along well with both Mum and Dad throughout the marriage and they did eventually build the house, although Harry’s Dad ended up in aged care.

In Harry and Amber’s property settlement case, Harry argued that the land was a gift mainly to him that should be counted as a contribution by him to the value of the property of the marriage, and recognised in Harry receiving a greater share of the property settlement. Amber claimed that the land was a gift to them both, and that its value should be treated equally between them.

The Appeal Court noted that the conditions of gifts and loans from parents to a couple are often ‘confused and imprecise’ and that what matters is whether there is evidence of the intention of the parents at the time the gift or loan is made. In this case, the Court said, the legal transfer into Harry and Amber’s joint names made it pretty clear that Harry’s parents intended the gift for both Harry and Amber equally.

Names are pseudonyms

Mabb & Mabb and Anor [2020] FamCAFC 18 (31 January 2020)