Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

UF Law Student Examines Legalities Of Broken Engagements

Date:
February 12, 1998
Source:
University Of Florida
Summary:
University of Florida law student Michael Moore and UF law Professor Nancy Dowd conclude from Moore's research into the legal aspects of broken engagements that the laws should be reformed to reflect more balance in the value assigned to what each partner in a relationship receives from the other.

Writer: Karen Meisenheimer

Source: Michael Moore; (352) 392-7139 or 379-1931

GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- The engagement was back on! Janis was certain it would all work out this time. She had the rock to prove it -- an opulent, $21,000 commitment -- glistening on her finger. Roger couldn't back out again.

Roger did back out, but this time Janis was holding on to the ring. She wasn't about to give up a girl's best friend twice. She ended up in court.

Not the typical Valentine's Day love story but one a University of Florida law student examined while researching the legal perspective of broken engagements. Second-year law student Michael Moore and UF law Professor Nancy Dowd concluded from the research that the laws should be reformed to reflect more balance in the value assigned to what each partner receives from the other.

"In most cases, the man will get the ring back," Moore said. "The problem with the existing law over broken engagements is that women are generally denied the right to claim monetary damages because expenses and sacrifices they make for the relationship are typically not valued."

In the Pennsylvania case of Roger and Janis, Roger prevailed on appeal, and Janis was ordered to return the diamond. Even though it was Roger who called off the wedding, the appellate court determined that an engagement ring is a conditional gift.

"Where the marriage does not ensue, the donee of an engagement ring is not entitled to keep the ring," the Pennsylvania court wrote in its ruling.

Lawsuits over broken engagements became popular in Revolutionary America, Moore said. But in the 1930s, several states began enacting "heart balm" statutes, which deny people the right to sue over a broken engagement.

In other words, the state says the heart can heal without recourse to the courts, Moore said, citing social commentators' and legal experts' opinions, and that had a lot to do with status of women and the changing sexual mores in society.

Modern-day court actions over the recovery of a $40,000 or $60,000 engagement ring are a different story, he said. They deal more with economic value than broken hearts.

"The law is not very well-defined in this area because so few cases reach the appellate courts," Moore said. "Most people work these things out outside of the courtroom because the expense of the suit can well exceed the value of the ring."

Moore said cases that do end up in court usually come down to the issue of unjust enrichment, meaning it's not fair to let the ring recipient keep the rock if no marriage occurs.

"The engagement ring is recoverable, but little else is," he said.

Consider the case of Dale and Donald:

At one point during their eight years of living together, Donald bought Dale a diamond engagement ring. When Donald moved to attend graduate school, Dale joined him and handled the household duties, including cooking, laundry, ironing, cleaning and taking care of Donald's children from a previous relationship. Donald ended his relationship with Dale and sued her for recovery of the ring.

In a countersuit filed by Dale, she submitted a monetary value for her years of domestic service to Donald. At $6 an hour, the total came to $25,000. Again, the court of appeals sided with the ring-giver, saying Dale's contributions had no market value.

Dowd said cases involving engagement rings are heavily gender-laden.

"Most people understand the ring as a gift," Dowd said. "No one says, ‘I'm going to give you this ring, and if we don't go through with the wedding, I get it back.' That's not the way it's portrayed in the diamond ads."

Moore said until there are more opportunities for people to recover other expenditures, nobody should be allowed to recover anything.

"While men buy engagement rings in contemplation of marriage, women typically make sacrifices in other ways," Moore wrote in his paper. "Unfortunately, courts have fallen into a pattern where men are permitted to recover engagement rings, or their worth, while women are not permitted to recover anything for performing household tasks or purchasing items in contemplations of marriage."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Florida. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Florida. "UF Law Student Examines Legalities Of Broken Engagements." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 February 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/02/980212093409.htm>.
University Of Florida. (1998, February 12). UF Law Student Examines Legalities Of Broken Engagements. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/02/980212093409.htm
University Of Florida. "UF Law Student Examines Legalities Of Broken Engagements." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/02/980212093409.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Science News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins