Unmarried cohabitation property payment disputes are on the rise, experts believe

Special rules should be made to adjust

  Our reporter Zhu Ningning

  The rise of individualization, the high cost of living in big cities, the loneliness of working alone... These realistic factors make more and more urban young people start to find a partner to "return to the group to keep warm" and choose a life of non-marital cohabitation Way.

  As the phenomenon of non-marital cohabitation has become more and more common in recent years, economic and property disputes during cohabitation have gradually shown an upward trend.

  How to divide the house bought during unmarried cohabitation?

How do you make money from doing business together?

Is the money given to the other party a dowry or can it be returned after a breakup?

Whether the gifts given to each other can be returned... The property disputes caused during the cohabitation relationship are endless.

At the 9th China Marriage and Family Law Practice Forum held recently, speeches on related topics also aroused heated discussions in the academic and practical circles.

Multiple factors make "empty nesters" choose cohabitation relationships

  Xiaoying (pseudonym), 24, joined an Internet company in Beijing after graduating last year.

In the company, she met her boyfriend who was "love at first sight".

Soon, the two rented a house near the company and started the "cohabitation era".

However, Xiaoying and her boyfriend are still young and have no plans to get married in a short period of time. Therefore, although the two live together, they have been "making their own money and spending their own money", maintaining independent economic income and expenses. Take the initiative to buy gifts for each other on special days or spend money to treat them to a big meal.

During the cohabitation, the two also went out to play several times, and the cost was basically AA.

  "What's mine is mine, it has nothing to do with him." Xiaoying admitted that even if the two broke up, there would be no financial disputes.

  Different from Xiaoying's "love without marriage" cohabitation relationship, Xiao (pseudonym), 33, has been living with his girlfriend for nearly 5 years for the purpose of marriage.

The two have known each other for a long time and have met their parents.

  "The two of us plan to live a lifetime. Living together now is no different from getting married. All income and expenses are the same." Xiao told reporters that the two are working hard to save money to buy a house and strive to live in them when they get married. house.

But when asked whose name the house will write at that time, Xiao was stunned for a moment, and then cautiously said that it would be discussed when the time comes.

  Less than hesitation is not without reason.

Whether it is "only love but not marriage" or for the purpose of getting married in the future, the parties will have some economic exchanges during the cohabitation period.

In recent years, disputes arising from buying a house or paying large amounts of property during cohabitation are not uncommon, and there is an upward trend.

The economic disputes during the cohabitation period became the main contradiction after the two parties broke up, which in turn led to the so-called cohabitation disputes.

Unclear legal provisions bring difficulties in judicial practice

  The reporter searched the China Judgment Documents Online with the keyword "cohabitation and property analysis", and found more than 3,100 judgment documents.

Among them, the most common disputes involving the property payment nature of non-marital cohabitation are marriage contract property disputes and loan contract disputes.

Due to factors such as the unclear provisions on cohabitation in the current law, the phenomenon of "same case but different sentences" often occurs in such cases.

  "Subjects in non-marital cohabitation relationships often make property payments based on identity factors, but such payments are not subject to special adjustments by law like payments between husband and wife." Professor of Jilin University Law School, Director of the Family Justice Research Center of Jilin University Law School Hou Xuebin said that because Chinese law does not have clear provisions on the nature of non-marital cohabitation like marriage, there is no uniform standard for determining the nature of payment in such disputes in judicial practice, which leads to "different judgments in the same case". important reason.

  Hou Xuebing said that the survey found that the nature of property payment behavior in non-marital cohabitation relationships is generally identified as conditional gifts (that is, the nature of betrothal gifts), or ordinary gifts, or three different types of lending relationships.

Correspondingly, these three different types of relationships will form two types of disputes, one is a dispute over whether the property payment is a betrothal gift or an ordinary gift, and the other is a dispute over whether the property payment is a loan or an ordinary gift.

  "No matter what kind of dispute it is, there will be disputes in judicial practice at present." Hou Xuebing analyzed that in the first type of dispute, although the judicial interpretation stipulates the rules for the return of the betrothal gift, it does not stipulate the content of the betrothal gift.

Influenced by traditional culture and regional customs, there are great differences in the content of the betrothal gifts in different places, which leads to different judgment results when judges make determinations.

In the second type of loan dispute, although evidence such as IOUs will play an important role, in the case of unmarried cohabitation, both parties rarely write IOUs based on their intimate relationship status. Identification brings difficulty.

Identity factors determine the nature of payment behavior

  The non-marital cohabitation relationship is established on the basis of personal relationship, but also involves complex property relations. However, according to the current law, the non-marital cohabitation relationship has no legal effect and is not protected by law.

The cohabitation relationship is different from the marriage relationship, and there are many differences with the marriage relationship.

Therefore, how to maintain the relationship between the two parties and protect their own rights and interests during the cohabitation period is a problem that the parties must face.

  "Both parties who live together out of wedlock must remember to make an agreement, and be rational even when they are in love." Chen Haiyi, deputy to the National People's Congress and a full-time member of the Judicial Committee of the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court of Guangdong Province, pointed out that especially large property payments, For example, when buying real estate, large-scale financial transactions, etc., you should make an agreement in advance and treat it rationally.

  Talking about the core issue of disputes over the payment of property in non-marital cohabitation, Hou Xuebing believes that the identity factor is the decisive factor in determining the nature of the payment behavior, which will also affect the outcome of the case.

  During the interview, the reporter learned that in the current judicial practice, some influencing factors have been standardized for the determination of the nature of property payments during cohabitation.

For example, whether it is determined to be a "bride gift" is mainly considered from the perspective of folk customs and common living time, and whether it is determined to be a loan is mainly considered from the perspective of the amount of money and the use of funds.

For another example, small monetary payments are often considered ordinary gifts, while large sums are more likely to be considered loans.

  However, in Hou Xuebin's view, whether such influencing factors can be regularized and whether there is a reasonable basis for differentiated treatment are still issues that should be paid attention to in judicial practice.

The best way to resolve such disputes is to recognize the particularity of such issues in legislation and formulate special rules to adjust them.

  "Judicial interpretation is currently the most convenient way to resolve such disputes." Hou Xuebin believes that in the face of a party's claim for the return of the property paid during the cohabitation, the people's court should establish different claims based on the parties' different claims. reason.

In a marriage contract property dispute, the people's court should determine the nature of the payment from the perspectives of the time that both parties lived together, folk customs and the amount of money; in a loan contract dispute, the use of the property and the amount of money and other factors should be considered.

  Hou Xuebing reminded that the intimacy of non-marital cohabitation is similar to marriage, but there is still a lack of special legal adjustments to property payments, and the parties must have a certain legal awareness.

"On the one hand, we must realize that this kind of intimate relationship cannot be based on interests like strangers; on the other hand, when the unmarried cohabitation relationship breaks down, we must pay attention to protecting our own interests. Have a sense of keeping evidence."