NSW Inheritance - How to Get Back After De Facto Relationship?

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20 July 2015
Hi, need some help please!

I was left a substantial amount of money form a paternal grandparent several years ago of approx $130,000 (2009). I was in a committed (de facto) relationship at the time and several months later (early 2010) we purchased a house together. I was not on the deed or loan as my credit rating was shot. We had a joint bank account together, which she later took my name off. We used approx $85,000 of my inheritance money towards the house, therefore taking out a smaller loan. Approx 6-8 months after purchasing the property we broke up (separation).

I moved out several months later and the house is currently vacant (as she is living in Victoria), the mortgage is being paid by her (and her father). The equity in the house (at this time) is approx $200,000. I don't want half of it, just the $85,000 that was originally given to me that I put into the property. I have been trying to make contact with her to sort the situation out, however she refuses to engage in any discussion for the last year.

1 - Can I get the money back?
2 - How long should I be waiting before making it a legal matter?

Thanks in advance for any and all assistance!!


Hi Caf,

What sort of legal action you take, will depend on whether your relationship is classified as a de facto relationship at law. If it is, you fall within the jurisdiction of the family court for the purpose of any property settlement issues and all the same provisions that apply to married couples also apply to you. If not, it will simply be a matter of establishing your interest in the property to the value of your inheritance and seeking it back from your ex in a general state law court.

You can read more about the family court's involvement with de facto relationships here but in brief: upon application by you, you can seek a court order dividing your assets - the court will have regard to the relative financial and non financial contributions of each partner to the relationship. You may however need to attempt to resolve the matter between yourselves or attend mediation.

I would first, contact your ex in writing and make a formal demand for payment of the inheritance monies. If you can get into negotiations with her - and come to an agreement you can lodge consent orders with the family court in terms of what you have agreed. If she avoids contact with you, I would seek legal advice, as you may need to get legal.
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