Number of legal disputes rises

Updated: Jul 19, 2022 China Daily Print
Share - WeChat

The number of civil disputes related to bride prices surged from dozens in 2009 to tens of thousands at the peak in 2016, before leveling off in the thousands, according to China Judgments Online, an official government database that reports court decisions from across the country.

From 2003 until last month, 82 percent of about 97,000 court rulings nationwide on the issue were related to demands that brides return the money they have received in the event of marital or engagement breakdowns.

As bride prices are usually high-sometimes tens of thousands of yuan-couples turn to the courts to solve disputes.

In January, a judgment released on the website showed that a man surnamed Zhang from Lankao county, Henan province, sued a woman surnamed Wang to force her to return her bride price.

The judgment stated that in November 2019, Zhang gave Wang 201,000 yuan ($30,000) as an engagement gift after they had been a couple for some time.

Though they held a wedding ceremony, they never married officially. Zhang claimed that Wang later unexpectedly refused to move in with him. Wang did not submit a defense document.

The county court said that according to an interpretation by the Supreme People's Court on the application of the Civil Code, the woman had to return a portion of the bride price because the couple were not officially married. However, given that they had spent some time living together before, Wang was required to return 110,000 yuan rather than the full amount.

The interpretation said that if one party requests the return of a bride price paid in accordance with customs, the court will support it if certain conditions have been met: the couple has not registered a marriage; the couple has legally married, but has not lived together; or if a payment made prior to marriage causes difficulties for the payer in making ends meet.

A recent judgment in Gansu province said that a bride price is a marriage contract according to traditional folk customs. Men give a certain amount of money or gifts to women upon their engagement.

The two are supposed to marry legally after the money is given, but the cash or gifts must be returned if they do not, the judgment said.

It also said that when handling such disputes, the court follows the basic principle of attempting to curb the high bride price trend and to promote reasonable marriage customs.

Henan, Anhui, Hebei and Gansu are the provinces on the Chinese mainland where a large number of rulings have been made regarding such disputes.

Liu Xicontributed to this story.


Copyright©2023 China Daily. All rights reserved.


京公网安备 11010502032503号 京公网安备 11010502032503号