The break-up fee: the cost of a failed relationship

Would you pay your ex money to soften the break up?   There is a new dating trend in China in which people are doing just that.

A case full of cash (equivalent to £232,323) was recently found in a bar in China.  It turned out to be a (rather large) break-up fee which a man was trying to give to his ex-girlfriend.  The ex-girlfriend rejected the money as she thought that she deserved more.  The case was then left in the bar by mistake. Luckily, it was handed into police and it has since been returned to the man.

A break-up fee in China is like compensation, which the person ending the relationship pays to the other to alleviate some of the hard feelings.  Some people tot up the amount spent on the relationship on holidays, meals out and gifts and gives their share back to the other person. Others, who are older when the relationship ends, give the other person money to compensate them for missing out on finding ‘the one’ whilst they were effectively ‘wasting’ their years with them.  How romantic?!

In England and Wales, dating couples who don’t live together do not have a claim to their ex’s money when they break up.  Even couples who have lived together for years have far fewer rights than married couples. This is why more and more couples are turning to Cohabitation Contracts to help reinforce their responsibilities towards each other.  Unmarried couples who own property together can also enter into a Declaration of Trust which sets out their intentions as to what share of the property each of them get if they were to break up to help ensure that they “get back what they put in”.

In light of this, we wonder if China has set the trend for the break-up fee.  It seems unlikely to us though that this is a trend that will start being adopted in the UK.

Paul Lancaster

Paul Lancaster
Family Law Team
0113 227 9215

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