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Money is not the yardstick for a successful marriage


Updated: 2024-01-03

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A news conference addressed jointly by the Supreme People's Court, All-China Women's Federation and the Ministry of Civil Affairs on Monday dwelt upon several judicial cases relating to the principle of gift money in marriages.

It has been a traditional practice for a man to pay the family of his would-be bride a large sum of money for the purpose of marriage. However, there is no clarity on what happens to the money if a man and woman do not marry after the money is paid. Should the money be returned? Sometimes, some gold jewelry, too, is paid along with the gift money. Should it too be returned?

In some other cases the couple married but divorced soon afterwards. Should the gift money be at least partially returned under such circumstances?

All these questions demand answers as they have already led to major conflicts between individuals and families, and different judges have different takes on the cases. Releasing the specific cases sets precedents for the courts to follow, so that people embroiled in similar cases will have a clearer understanding of where they stand.

More importantly, the top court tried to clear major ambiguities on the issue. In one case, a man had reportedly bought gold jewelry for his would-be bride but they did not marry. The court ruled that the gold should be treated as part of gift money. In another case, a man paid the gift money and married the woman but they divorced soon after; the court ruled that part of the money be returned because it was given for the purpose of marriage.

All these cases show that the judiciary is trying to tell the people that marriage is not a business and money should not be its yardstick. Of course, all these measures are just temporary because the ultimate goal is to get rid of the old practice of gifting money for marriage.