What constititues blackmail regarding a loan and/or a gift?

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What constititues blackmail regarding a loan and/or a gift?

My girlfriend and I have been together for 4 years and have been engaged for a little over year.nHer parents are not rich but comfortable, both of them are retired from the banking industry. My fiance and I are both over 40 and do not live together. In the last 4 years my business suffered in this economy so over the last 2 years her step-father has given me $8k. No contract was asked for nor was I asked to pay it back. That being said, do I intend pay him back, am I morally obligated to repay him back – absolutely. For the last 18 months, her parents have been pushing vigorously for us to get married. The only reason we have not is because we have been trying to save money for the wedding. Then 3 days ago her stepfather decided my fiancé and I were not moving fast enough to the alter, so during a phone call to my fiancé’s stepfather (with the speaker on) he floored both of us by saying that if I did not set a wedding date by the end of this week, he was going to sue me for the $8,000. Am I being blackmailed?

Asked on October 3, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Alabama

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

This isn't blackmail-- it's really an empty threat if the $8000.00 he gave you was a gift.  Even though you feel moraly obligated to pay him back, if there was not a clear communication that it was loan, then he doesn't have a basis for seeking repayment of a gift.  If for some reason he does try to sue you for the $8000, even though it was a gift, then you would have a basis for a counter-suit for any attorney's fees that you incurred.  Unfortunately, many people file baseless lawsuits each year.  It sounds like Dad is just freaking out and concerned that he has been conned into giving someone $8000 that he thinks has no intention of marrying his daughter.  A family sit-down would be cheaper than a lawsuit for both sides.  Explain to him that you are saving for the wedding, but if you have to hire an attorney to defend the suit, then you will have to stall the wedding further because you will have to redirct funds.  This is not blackmail either, it's just a simple explanation of financial facts. 


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