Doesn't it sound like the nuttiest thing you've ever heard? Suing someone for breaking up with you? Hey they're over you, no need to drag this out. Plus, what are you, nuts?
Well, it used to exist--and the ancient practice of serving someone papers for dumping you is still around in some states.
According to Psychology Today, “from the medieval times through the early 1900s, a man’s promise to marry a woman was widely considered to be legally binding.” Therefore, If a man broke his promise to marry the woman, she could sue him under the "breach of promise" legal theory.
Boy, she’s bitter.
But it kind of makes sense. Since women weren’t the breadwinners back then, her financial condition was completely dependent on a man—and marrying him. The financial impact would be so big as to negatively affect her life, so she was allowed to sue for breach of promise. Also, during that time, women were expected to remain virgins until marriage. If a man slept with her prior to the wedding then left her she was considered damaged goods.
What kind of backwards world was this?
In our modern age, there has obviously been a huge decline in this type of lawsuit, and most states have abolished these lawsuits completely.
But, there are always a few antiquated thinkers out there, and so North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois, Hawaii, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, South Dakota, Georgia, and Utah, still allow for this type of lawsuit. “In 2013, a Georgia jury awarded a jilted bride $50,000 from her ex-fiancé after he broke off their engagement,” reports PT. But he was also having an affair, so he was screwed. And in 2012, the South Carolina Court of Appeals upheld a breach of promise claim in which a woman argued that she was entitled to monetary compensation for her “prenuptial expenditures, mental anguish, and injury to health due to the breakup.” She won.
In 2010, Chicago bride Dominique Buttitta spent nearly $70,000 on her upcoming wedding when fiancé Vito Salerno abruptly called it off. She filed a $95,000 suit against him citing “breach of promise to marry” and emotional distress. The two settled out of court.
But it’s very rare for these cases to even make it to court. According to New Hampshire Family Law Attorney, Edrea Grabler, most lawyers in these states aren’t even aware the law exists. “I’m not familiar with it myself,” she tells Personal Space, adding that despite the cases mentioned above, you’d have to go digging to find a case where someone won a monetary reward simply for getting dumped when an actual wedding date wasn't close.
Some rules of law that exist so that people don't feel they have to get to the point of suing their former partner.
If the recipient of the engagement ring cancels an engagement, they must return it.
If one partner cancels a wedding before the big day the other can sue to recoup the expenses.
If left at the altar, and the wedding is about to happen, you can again, sue, but experts advise just going through with the party on your own with your guests because you're paying for it anyway.
Linda A. Kerns, an attorney in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, says that although it's different in every state, people are usually suing for something economic and not just heartbreak.
"Unless you have specific monetary damages from a failed relationship, suing after a break-up would be ill advised," she says. "While the pain of a broken heart can be all consuming and can even disrupt your life, convincing a court to compel your ex to pay you would be an uphill battle. Additionally, the best way to get over someone is to find someone new and if you are wrapped up in a lawsuit, you could miss out on the next great person in your life."
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