Valentine’s Day is here again! A lot of promises and commitments would be made today by couples in love. We are also sure to see some proposals on social media especially with the rise in dramatic public proposals. This is not to throw a dampener in the celebration of love but some of these promises might get broken; a promise to marry for example.

This article is just to let you know that where your partner breaks his/her promise to marry you, you can sue! Funny, right? You are probably wondering what the business of the law is with a broken promise of marriage. How does it concern the law or the courts that a person who was promised marriage was probably jilted and is heartbroken? Seems trivial especially considering that there are so many criminals to be prosecuted and the likes, does it not?

Well here’s is how it concerns the law, a promise to marry is a contract between two individuals capable of contracting a marriage that they will marry each other. In the above definition, the most important word is the word “contract”. It is basic knowledge that when two parties enter into a contract and one party fails to perform his part of the contract or reneges, the other party can sue.

You might ask again how enforceable such “contract” is especially since a promise to marry is many times made orally. It is important to remember that there are basically two kinds of contract- oral and written. A promise to marry may fall into the category of a written contract where it is in a written form such as a letter or note or card.

You might wonder also what the aim of suing one’s ex-partner could be or what benefit could be derived from going to the courts with such a matter especially as the court has no power to force an unwilling person into a marriage. Well, the affected party can claim monetary damages for loss or as compensation.
To prove that there has been a breach of promise to marry, two things are important:

  1. There must have actually been an unequivocal promise to marry and not mere speculation, wishful thinking or futuristic talks. To prove this, the disgruntled party would have to provide some documentary evidence like pictures or video records of an engagement, an introduction ceremony between the two families or other relevant event, letters, cards etc. Evidence from witnesses who were aware of the promise to marry is also acceptable especially in a case where there is documentary evidence.
  2. It must be shown that the other party (man/woman) reneged on the promise to marry. 

Where an affected party’s claim is satisfactorily proved to the court, it may order damages for money lost as a result of such promise e.g. costs borne for wedding preparations or house rentage etc The court may also order compensation for damages to health or reputation of the affected party.

Do not make promises you have no intention of fulfilling, you might be sued!