Getting ready for a wedding can be exciting; you and your betrothed pick out an engagement ring, you determine the venue, band or DJ, the invitations, who will be the flower girl, etc. The preparations can be extremely costly…especially if the wedding does not take place. Once the heartbreak and anger subside in the aftermath of a broken engagement, one question remains: who gets the engagement ring?
This goes beyond an etiquette lesson as the lesson does not mirror what the law may require as a result of the end of an engagement. Of course, many would assume the ring should be returned to the fiance who proposed. The process in Illinois, however, depends largely on who broke up with whom, and other factually-based assessments.
Breach of Promise Act: Illinois
This issue in Illinois is governed by the Breach of Promise Act, which determines the enforcement rights and legally available claims that can be brought into court due to the breach of promise to marry. Though Illinois, and states nationwide, cannot force the performance of one of the parties into marriage, it can create a responsibility that must be held by the breaching party as a result of not following through with the engagement.
There is an interest with this legislation, however, that limit the damages and recovery of claimants to ensure that this statute is not abused for unjust enrichment purposes. Emotional distress may not be alleged to receive monetary damages as a result of the breach of the promise to wed.
Limitations to the Breach of Promise Act
Certain limitations on the Breach of Promise Act help to shield those looking to seduce and take advantage of another. Any action that is to be taken is time-barred by one year, therefore requiring that the action must be resolved within a year. Also, the action must commence with notification within three months from the date of the breach of the promise to marry.
Case Law and the Engagement Ring Rule in Illinois
Case law also has a hand in determining the leaning that Illinois courts take when it comes to property obtained as a result of the impending marriage. Generally, Illinois reviews the circumstances that followed the breakup of the engagement and generally provides that if the bride-to-be breaks up with the groom, then the engagement ring belongs to the groom because the groom was still willing to enter into the marriage, and it was the bride-to-be who reneged. If the groom-to-be breaks up with the bride, then generally the bride will be able to keep the ring as a result under the same logic. If there is mutual agreement as to the break up, then the giver of the engagement ring is permitted to take the ring back.
Gift Giving vs. Breach of Promise: Which One is More Compelling?
Other states are persuaded by the laws behind gift-giving, stating that an engagement ring is a gift and cannot be returned. Many states include in the reasoning the time of year when the engagement ring was given, for example, permitting the gift giving rules to apply because the ring was given on a holiday like Christmas or a special day, like a birthday. Though the rules behind gift-giving are compelling, the rule of thumb in Illinois and in many states is whether the property was given in contemplation of marriage. If that is the case, then the breaker of the engagement no longer has a right to the gifts.
Experienced Family Law Attorneys in DuPage County
The engagement ring is just one of the many issues that may come up at the break of an engagement. Speaking with the experienced family law attorneys at Mevorah & Giglio Law Offices can help you deal with any property disputes that may arise as a result of your broken engagement. Contact our experienced DuPage County family law attorneys today for a free and confidential consultation.
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