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The Laws of Love

1885-proposal-caricature.jpgSince Valentine's Day is just around the corner, we're taking a look at the laws of love. No, not marriage and divorce, which we've covered before here, here and here.

Instead, in this first annual laws of love post, we're focusing on broken engagements. Is a financee required to return her engagement ring or other gifts given during the couple's engagement? While neither the Utah Supreme Court or Court of Appeals has decided the engagement ring question, in the case of Hess v. Johnston, 163 P.3d 747 (2007), the court held that money the man had spent on trips, a vasectomy and a gift to his financee's son prior to marriage did not lead to unjust enrichment. In other words, the woman didn't have to pay him for any of these expenses because there was "no inherent inference that they were conditioned on the marriage."

This case left open the question of whether the woman would have been required to return her engagement ring after breaking the engagement because in this case she willingly did so. The court stated, "[we]need not address whether the gift of an engagement ring carries with it an implied condition of marriage requiring its return when the wedding does not ensue."

In addition, the court held that the man could not recover monetary damages for other causes of action, including breach of contract, promissory estoppel, or conditional gifts.


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