A shopper reaches into his wallet to pay for a purchase on "Black Friday" at the K-Mart store in Burbank, California November 28, 2008. Reuters/Fred Prouser

A British couple lost £ 90,000 (AU$164,000) after a court sided with their daughter and said they had given her the money and so she’s not obligated to return it. David and Glenda Joy were told that because they didn’t draw up a contract, the money they lent to daughter Lucy was considered a gift.

The couple lent their daughter the sum in a bid to help heal a long-running family rift over an inheritance Lucy obtained from David’s mother. However, little did they know that the money would create an even bigger rift for their family.

As the Joys told the Daily Mail, their daughter inherited a £ 200,000 (AU$364,000) three-bedroom house from her grandmother, David’s mother. But David’s two siblings challenged the will, claiming Lucy took advantage of her grandmother who had dementia. David then helped his daughter pay her legal battle, costing him £73,650 (133,902) in legal fees.

And when Lucy was required to pay an out-of-court settlement, she allegedly asked her parents to help her pay the £ 90,000. The couple paid the settlement, telling Lucy that she could repay them by signing her grandmother’s house over to Glenda, Lucy’s stepmother, and then paying rent until the loan was repaid. Only then would they sign over the house to her.

The Joys said they took out a mortgage on their home in Bude, Cornwall, to pay for their daughter’s out-of-court settlement. But when after a month after they paid and Lucy refused to sign over the house to Glenda as what they allegedly agreed upon, Glenda apparently told them they were “trying to steal my baby’s inheritance,’” and then swore at them before driving off.

“Lucy’s whole attitude throughout was, ‘Dad can afford it,’” David said. “She had no qualms about letting me pay the lawyer’s fees.” They haven’t spoken since then.

This was denied by Lucy in court. She claimed that David and Glenda gifted her the money. And because they agreement was not in writing, the court sided with Lucy.

The couple took their daughter to court last year. But just over a week ago, the court said the money was deemed as a gift, and therefore the couple had no right to its return. They had no written contract because David said he trusted his daughter.

But Lucy’s “manipulative behaviour” had cost them everything. “I still have bad nights over the injustice of it all — and our stupidity. I should have said, ‘sign something,’” Glenda told the paper.