Bantaeng Religious Court Decision No. 107 of 2012: Return of Dowry Payment to Wife

The plaintiff married her husband on 31 December 1945, upon which her husband gave her a 20-acre plot of land as a dowry (mahar). The plot of land had been controlled by the plaintiff's husband's younger sibling since 1983 until the present. When the plaintiff's husband passed away, her mother-in-law asked to use the land until she passed away herself. When her mother-in-law passed away, the plaintiff requested of the defendant that the land be returned to her, but the defendant refused to do so. The plaintiff had also sought to resolve this dispute in a familial manner through deliberation and by making polite requests, but the defendant had not responded in a favourable manner himself, compelling the plaintiff to instigate proceedings.

In response to the plaintiff's claim, the defendant submitted that, when the plaintiff married her husband, the defendant himself was not yet an adult and, therefore, could not have known that the land constituted the plaintiff's dowry. Moreover, that he had sold the land in order that he have some money when he married his wife. Two years later he re-purchased the land, but he did not want to return it to the plaintiff because he believed it to be his inheritance from his parents. The plaintiff asserted that, as the land the defendant believed to have previously belonged to his parents was 35 acres, and the dowry land was 20 acres, only 15 of those acres actually belonged to the defendant.

The court found that the evidence submitted by the defendant did not support his case, whereas evidence submitted by the plaintiff showed that the 20 acres in question had indeed been given by the plaintiff's husband to the plaintiff as a dowry on the day of their marriage. Accordingly, the court ordered the defendant to transfer to the plaintiff the 20 acres of land.

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