When a wedding is canceled frequently there are shattered dreams, broken promises and breaking contracts that must be handled. Before you rebuild your life and create new dreams, you must determine each party’s right to common property and each party’s responsibility for joint obligations.
General rules on the division of property for unmarried couples
Generally, any property you acquire for yourself, any debt you incur and any contract that contains only your signature remains yours after your commitment has ended. However, the common law in several states has allowed the courts to divide the property among the people who cohabit without being married. For example, in California, the case of Marvin vs. Marvin in 1976 resulted in what is now known as the Marvin Rules. The Marvin Rules allow those who cohabit without being married to enter into oral or written contracts about the division of property. In the absence of a contract, the court can determine whether there is an implicit contract or determine whether legal doctrines on fairness and justice require a division of property between cohabitants.
Who keeps the engagement ring?
The answer to this question depends on where you live and the circumstances under which the engagement ring was delivered. Some states, such as New York and Michigan, see the engagement ring as a conditional gift given in consideration of an upcoming marriage. The courts in these states typically state that if the marriage did not take place, then the engagement ring must be returned. It does not matter which of the parties undid the commitment or was guilty that the marriage did not take place. Other states, such as California, take into account which of the parties disrupted the commitment. If the party that gave the ring ended the commitment, then the person who received the ring generally retains it. Likewise, if the person who received the ring broke the engagement, The person who delivered the ring can request a return. Finally, some States consider that engagement rings are not conditional gifts that legally have to be returned if the marriage does not take place.
Most states will recognize as valid contracts that establish that a ring must be returned to the donor, if the commitment does not end with the marriage. It is especially important to consider when entering into this type of contract if you are giving your girlfriend an extremely expensive or inherited ring.
Who pays the wedding organizers?
The answer to this question, like the one that refers to who is left with the engagement ring, is, in part, dependent on where you live. Some states require that both parties share the expenses of the wedding planner. Other States only require that the party causing the termination of the commitment pay the expenses.
It is important to carefully read your contract with the wedding organizer. The organizers can sue both parties signing the contract and have not paid the penalties or costs described in the contract for a wedding that did not occur.
Although breaking a commitment does not present legal challenges such as ending a marriage, it involves many of the same emotions and legal principles. Consequently, it is advisable to contact a family law attorney when you terminate a commitment.
Talk to a lawyer qualified in Family Law today
This article is intended to be useful and informative, but legal issues can become complicated and stressful. A lawyer qualified in family law can attend to your particular legal needs, explain the law and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a qualified family law attorney near you to discuss your particular legal situation.