I don't know the where you live or the laws in your state, nor do I know if there was any sort of contract or agreement between your DH and his FOO concerning money transactions. You may have some leverage to get the money back depending on the situation and the laws. There are federal laws concerning how much you can "gift" another person during one year without paying penalties. If it was a gift, your ILs should have reported it to the IRS and if is was a loan, they should be paying it back. I suggest that you contact a good accountant or tax adviser or attorney concerning this matter if your DH also feels that the money was a loan.
I'd also sit down and have a frank discussion with your DH concerning financial matters, especially giving $$$ to ILs, and come to an agreement. Is it OK for him to hand his mother $2 without consulting you? How about $2000? My DH and I have an agreement not to give money to ANYONE without consulting the other because of the issues generated in money transfers.
This being said, I have to add that money and my ILs has been a big issue in our marriage. My parents never borrowed ONE PENNY. My ILs are constantly trying to shake DH and me down for cash and gifts. I've posted on this site about IL mooching and outright stealing:
- MIL and FIL stole the entire contents of DH's bank account and never paid it back. They used it on trips, one or more fur coats, jewelry and restaurants while my DH was practically starving in college.
- Golden SIL used to taunt us with her/her DH's income when they were making more than DH and I were (in graduate schools or working our way up) and flaunted all her material things. When DH and I finally got our careers up and running with resultant income, GSIL was suddenly SO POOR and begged DH for money. We gave her many thousands to patch over the (supposed) crises in her life, then found out that they were also using the $$$ for new car notes, trips, expensive clothes for their DD and fancy toys for their DS.
- MIL and FIL pretended that they were depressed because they needed a new car. "(MIL) put dents in the old one because she kept hitting things", said FIL. They claimed that they didn't have any money and could we help them? One lie lead to another and FIL went out and ordered a new expensive import, then sent us the bill. He couldn't back out, he said, and MIL would be SO DISAPPOINTED in her son/my DS if she couldn't get that dream car. FIL actually lied on the phone to DH, demanding that he send a couple of thousand more than the car cost. I demanded to see the bill, and found out that FIL was trying to extract more! "What's a few thousand to YOU?" he said.
- MIL and FIL always expect that we pay for dinners when we visit. "Oh, don't fuss with cooking!" MIL says. "You can pick a nice restaurant, wherever you want to go" and then she and FIL are always in the bathroom when the bill comes. They order the most expensive entrees and add on extras; appetizers (they drag it to their side of the table and eat it all!), soup, salad, coffee, dessert, etc. Then they take it home, along with all the condiments on the table.
- GSIL's unemployed DH actually asked if I would hire him after years of being abrasive to me. I told him I didn't have any openings, and then went out and hired someone else. BIL also wanted us to provide free housing for him along with the job.
MIL and FIL's mooching of other FOO is legendary, but that's another story.
As for me, I say NO MORE!