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Broken Engagement

Published
Categorized as Illinois Family Law, Property Division

Diamonds are forever. Sometimes engagements are not. If the banquet hall was booked, the invitations are in the mail, and the rings are sized, the bride or groom-to-be wants more than his or her dignity back. Fortunately, when a storybook romance doesn’t result in a happy ending, Illinois law provides a chapter–the Breach of Promises Act 740 ILCS § 15/1-10–addressing whom should be responsible for costs.
Under the Breach of Promises Act, Illinois treats marriage like a contract in which two persons promise to hold up their end of the bargain. This statute was specifically enacted to cover breach of promise to marry and prevent against abuses in an especially emotionally charged subject area. The Breach of Promise Act requires that the person who intends to file suit under this act must notify the person against whom the action is to be brought within three months from the date of the alleged breach of promise to marry. This statute further eliminated the possibility of monetary damages being awarded for emotional distress in such actions.There is also a Statute of Limitations of one year.
There are also several cases that cover this issue. In Illinois, in Harris v. Davis, 139 Ill.App.3d 1047 (5th Dist. 1986), on appeal the court determined that “a gift [a ring] given in contemplated of marriage is deemed to be conditional on the subsequent marriage of the parties, and the party who fails to perform on the condition of the gift has no right to property acquired under such pretenses.” In other words, the ring is a gift for the marriage, and the person who does not complete that marriage has no right to the ring.

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