Daughter sued by parents speaks out

Colleen Warin has offered her side of the story in the legal case with her parents. Photo: stuff.co.nz.

Following widespread publicity, the daughter of retirees who begged her to pay back $368,000 in unpaid loans says she may yet appeal the decision.

Marian and Trevor Warin won a legal case against their daughter over decades of loans she failed to pay back.

The couple earned a $3 million fortune developing orchards, and Marian claims they have been living off pensions since their 80s because of their daughter's debt to them.

Their daughter Colleen Warin, in a letter emailed from her lawyer, notes there is still time to appeal the judgment – and that she has never denied the money would need to be repaid.

"Colleen is dismayed with the media publicity about this matter for what is a family dispute, for loans that the judgment records she has never denied would need to be repaid," the letter says. 

"The only dispute is over when they were repayable. Colleen is disappointed with the judge's decision, and the time for Colleen to appeal the judgment has yet to expire at this time.

“Colleen would like it known that the loans arise primarily out of the circumstances following the breakup of her marriage, and that she is supporting a child." 

Marian, who proclaimed "we are not a bank" in Facebook postings about the case, is pleading for Colleen to hand over her Taupo unit to repay the loans, and has claimed she owned a Mercedes car.

Via her lawyer, Colleen claims she has never owned a Mercedes.

High Court at Wellington associate Judge Warwick Smith found there was no evidence supporting Colleen's contention that there was any agreement that she repay her parents ‘as and when Colleen could afford to repay'.

The judgment shows the lending began in 1996 when the couple transferred their Te Puke property to their daughter with an acknowledgement she owed them $100,000, and an apparently oral agreement that she would build a ‘home for life' for them on the property.

In 2011, the land was subdivided and the house the Warins were living in was sold, so they moved to another part of the land and that was sold too.

The couple, by then in their 80s, then moved to another Te Puke property meant to be their retirement income. They made further loans to Colleen between 2010 and 2014.

The judgement says the couple sent their daughter a letter on May 3, 2012, outlining they were prepared to consider a repayment plan over time with payment of interest in the meantime, ‘given Colleen's apparently difficult circumstances.'

But it does not suggest any agreement of the kind Colleen contended had taken place.

"Colleen appears to have simply ignored the letter," the judgment says.

The judge notes Colleen's marriage ended in 2012, and at the time the letter was sent her husband appeared to be the full-time carer for their son.

The judge found her parents were ‘well within their rights' to demand repayment of the money.

Colleen owns a home in Waiheke Island and a lake-front Taupo resort unit.

Trevor, 90, is at their Te Puke property suffering from dementia, while Marian is currently recovering from pneumonia in Australia with her son Nigel, who says his parents' retirement was ‘stolen'.

Marian told her story on Wednesday as a warning to other Kiwis to use written agreements when it came to lending to family members.

"Terrible, it's all terrible," she says. "The whole thing has been a bit of a shock."

-       Stuff



9 Comments

@Morepork

Posted on 14-05-2017 09:27 | By Papamoaner

"Takes a village to raise a child" is on the button. There are influential mentors in the village. Parenting is a big factor alright, but blaming parenting for everything, as some do, is shallow thinking.Eg; It seems blaming parenting for maori re-offending rates is popular among surface thinkers when in fact the village factor has more to do with it.

@Papamoaner

Posted on 13-05-2017 17:09 | By morepork

Agree 100%. Kids are totally "monkey see, monkey do". All of us should be mindful that little eyes can be on us when we are not even aware of it.. Don't rush across the road, don't shout abuse at people and, especially, don't ever let violence be seen as an acceptable solution. Fortunately, most parents are all too aware of this and do their best, but my point is that all of us, whether parents or not, have a part in the shaping of our communities, and the tone and culture of our habitat reflects on all of us. It takes a village to raise a child.

@ Morepork

Posted on 12-05-2017 15:56 | By Papamoaner

I guess some of it could have been started by technology and affluence. When I was a toddler, most families didn't have motor cars, so everyone walked everywhere. That resulted in people talking to each other. Now they sit in cars and look at each other and get competitive about things like road-space and who gets in front first. Kids see all this crap going on around them and learn the ropes quickly.

@Papamoaner

Posted on 12-05-2017 14:37 | By morepork

You are right that "Our culture" is not what it was, but still not so bad... I've lived long periods in other countries and the kindness and innate fairness of the average Kiwi is second to none. We also need to remember that we shape the values in our culture by the way we teach kids at home and at school, and in the examples we set during our daily interactions with others. It's no good saying kids have no manners, young women have no grace, young men are just apprentice thugs, there are no values any more, and the world is going to Hell in a handcart, if we never show that there are alternatives. They don't lick it off the stones...

Our culture

Posted on 11-05-2017 19:53 | By Papamoaner

These awful incidents are small pins among the nails in the coffin of our society as we once knew it. Standards of behaviour, loyalty, and codes of living are crumbling all around us. This small local incident epitomises it I'm afraid. It's not difficult to visualise how the destruction of the Roman Empire evolved if we extrapolate it. All that said, we still, as a small nation, seem to be well ahead of most other countries when it comes to caring about "People" Hell, we survived Rogernomics (just) and that was a mission, notwithstanding Lange's "Tomorrows schools" which encumbered us with adults who now cannot spell, let alone write properly.

Just goes to show........

Posted on 11-05-2017 18:16 | By groutby

...sadly the days of a "verbal" or "gentlemens" agreement is well and truly over, even within the family unit, my hunch is this is not an isolated case. So, when was she thinking of repayment?..after the parents had passed on and clearly not able have the tangible use of THEIR money?.As Papamoaner says there is more to this tho.......but really sad.

@Morepork and Linaire

Posted on 11-05-2017 17:04 | By Papamoaner

Agree with both of you, but reluctant to comment further because there will be underground scenarios we don't know about. However, one thing is evident - there seems to be money and assets galore all over the place here, and on both sides. The only person who knows the full story (as always) is the judge. It's very interesting alright, albeit a bit Coro-Street ish.

More than disgusted ..!

Posted on 11-05-2017 16:15 | By Linaire

I was disgusted yesterday, but today I am stunned. This 'daughter' is an accountant, owns two properties in extremely good locations, and is considering appealing the Judge's decision? Omg .. she needs to 'man up' and pay them back, so they can enjoy their retirement years in peace and comfort. I feel sorry for the stress Marian Warin must be going through, and I hope she has sought legal advice so that her daughter inherits nothing. If this is how Colleen treats her parents, I wouldn't be trusting her with my accounts!

Very sad.

Posted on 11-05-2017 15:20 | By morepork

It is perfectly usual for parents to support their children. It is NOT so usual for acrimony to develop over it. Most children recognize their obligation and do their best to make sure their parents are reimbursed. It is really sad that in this case it has come to a point where lawyers have to be involved, and the whole matter is made public. The bottom line is that, if you don't think your kids are "good for it" and you can't afford to write off the loss, then don't do it! Let them sort out their finances the same way everyone else has to; it might be a good life lesson... And, as a child, if you see your parents as "an easy option" it is time you reviewed your relationship with them. Same rules apply to family lending as any other: caveat emptor!

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