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Legal issues arising from a broken engagement

By July 23, 2020June 26th, 2024No Comments



Legal issues arising from a broken engagement


It is still customary that parties get engaged to married before they get married. This gives rise to issues that may arise where that engagement is broken and where the parties have entered into agreements on foot of that engagement.


The purpose of this article is to highlight some issues that arise from a broken engagement.


  1. Property of engaged couples

Where a couple have purchased property together then any dispute in relation to that property is to be determined under Section 44 of the Family Law (divorce) Act, 1996 which states that any disputes about property between a couple who engagement has ended is treated the same way as if the couple were separated or divorced. This only applies to property where one or both of the spouses have a legal or beneficial interest and it does not apply to property which either party acquire after the engagement has ended. If one of the parties wishes to make a claim to property owned by the other party and where he or she is claiming a beneficial interest this action must be instituted within three years of the engagement ending.


2.  Preparations for the marriage

When an engagement and one of the couple has incurred substantial expenses in preparing for the marriage and application can be made for a reimbursement of these expenses by the ex-fiancé.


3. Gifts from third parties

Sometimes the parties to an engagement may have receive gifts and there is a presumption that is given to both of them as joint owners. There is a further presumption that the gifts will be returned if the marriage does not go ahead and the donor of the gifts could seek the gifts back.


4. Gifts between an exchanged couple

Where gifts have been exchanged and particularly an engagement ring there is a presumption there given on the condition that the gifts including the engagement ring will be returned if the engagement ends. However if one of the engaged couple’s dies then it is assumed that the gifts were given without conditions and the surviving fiancé shall be entitled to keep any such gifts unless such rebutted is rebutted.


For any further information or if you have any queries on any family law matter please do not hesitate to contact Brendan Dillon or Lorna McArdle on 01 296 0666.