Can a gift be taken back legally?

My ex-boyfriend is threatening to take my dog (via the police). We broke up over a year and a half ago and I have had the dog ever since. He originally bought the dog for me as a gift over 3 1/2 years ago. Since we broke up, I have always had the dog. Is it possible for him to take my dog? I have proof that I have cared for him in the way of vet receipts, etc.

Asked on September 6, 2012 under Business Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

No, a gift may not be "ungiven"--once something is given as a gift (and not as loan, or as an advance, a purchase to be paid over time, etc.), it belongs to the recipient, and the giver may not get it back. Also, the only legal way your ex-boyfriend could attempt to get the dog would be to sue you for it--and he'd have to prove, in court, that it was his dog, not yours, to win. You, in turn could present your testimony and evidence refuting his case. If he tries to lie and claim it not only was his dog but that you stole it, to try to get you arrested, you would have a case against him for malicious prosecution.

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