Gifts in contemplation of marriage

It is important to distinguish between gifts given merely to advance the donor in the acquaintance of the donee and thereby gaining a favor; and those in anticipation of or in contemplation of marriage. The former is held to be absolute. Where there has been no mutual undertaking to marry, the gifts will be regarded on an unconditional basis. In that regard, the gifts are “absolute gifts” made out of love. As such, there’s no right in law to demand their return or payment of their value.

Where the gift is made in contemplation of marriage, different results have reached in general situations. Suppose when a man and a woman agree to marry, a gift in contemplation of that marriage is given to the condition that there is to be a marriage. If no marriage takes place, then, arising from the principles of contract at Common Law, the condition has not been fulfilled and the gift is returnable.

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