Court voids marriage contract on moral grounds

TAIPEI, Taiwan - One man's love affair with a girl 24 years his junior ended with tens of thousands of dollars lost after the court declared their marriage contract void.

The man's mother runs a kindergarten, and in 2003 after retiring from the military at the age of 32, the man began working at the pre-school. It was there that he met an 8-year-old girl and took a liking to her.

The man signed a contract in 2006 with the girl's mother, surnamed Chen, who agreed to wed her daughter to the man when she grew up in compensation for her tuition and other daily expenses.

In July 2012, however, the man discovered through Facebook that the girl had not only married but had also given birth to a child. The man then filed a lawsuit against the girl's mother for breach of trust.

The Taipei District Prosecutors Office ruled against the man and decided that there was no fraud based on the reasoning that a marriage should be based on affection instead of monetary transactions. In addition, it is not legal for parents to designate marriage to minors and everyone is free to love at will, the court said. In fact, the contract constituted a "marriage purchase," which violates public order and good morals, and was therefore declared void.

The man had allegedly provided financial assistance such as buying clothes and other consumer goods for the girl. He also lent money to the mother four times between 2011 and 2012, amounting to several thousand dollars each time. The money was never returned.

A local news source reported that Chen is illiterate and was not fully aware of the agreements stipulated by the contract.