The financial cost of a broken engagement

I have removed the details of this post at someone's request.   It was about a broken engagement, though it did not identify the parties involved.  It simply brought up the question of recouping costs when we don't have the  Tanaim at engagement (see http://www.-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner~y2009m10d21-Aspects-of-the-Jewish-wedding) which stipulates very stiff penalties for breaking the engagement. The comments are interesting and are of general interest.  So I am leaving them up.

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Zadok said…
But I really don't know if they have a legal case -- only a moral one

I don't know if they have a legal secular case either, but do know that the Igros Moshe does require the side who broke the engagement to pay.Of course
these type of things can only be paskened on a case by case basis.
Orthonomics said…
The whole thing sounds unfortunate, but there must be a reason that the chatan and kallah broke things off, rather than push things off while they try to work through whatever issue came up. I think it is a nice thing to offer some compensation if there was particular fault, but fault is hard to assign. Of course, the jewelry should be returned. I hope that buying custom jewelry was a choice that was made, rather than something coerced wrongly.

Sounds like a big mess. I'm sure the kallah's family is out some significant money too.
Ariella said…
The kallah broke it off. From what I gather the conversation with a friend introduced doubts and she then wanted out. I don't think there was a particular eruption at the time just second thoughts.
The rights of action to recover sums of money as damages for alienation of
affections, criminal conversation, seduction, or breach of contract to
marry are abolished.
NY Civil Rights law prevents suing for breaking an engagement, but other states allow it and people have won (based on a quick google search).
Ariella said…
My husband emailed his comment: "The rights of action to recover sums of money as damages for alienation of affections, criminal conversation, seduction, or breach of contract to marry are abolished."
NY Civil Rights law prevents suing for breaking an engagement, but other states allow it and people have won (based on a quick google search).
Ariella said…
Sorry that went in twice now.
Chaim B. said…
Hooray for the comments section being back to normal!

Zadok, where is that IG"M? Why is any loss not considered a gerama? Thanks
Yitzhak said…
1) The return of gifts after a broken engagement is discussed in Shulhan Aruch EH 50:3.

2) The recovery of expenses incurred by one party to an engagement broken off by the other party is a dispute between Rambam and Ra'avad. Maran (ibid.) rules according to Rambam, that there is (under certain circumstances) liability, but, IIRC, other Poskim suggest that one can plead Kim Li like Ra'avad.

Note that this issue is the subject of extensive pilpul in the Aharonim, with many subtle distinctions between various cases and many different opinions.
Orthonomics said…
Ariella-Do you know how long the couple dated before annoucing a wedding 6 weeks away? Is it acceptable or not to hold off a wedding while going working on issues (I was told a NO)?

I know a number of couples that married soon after the engagement, which was soon after meeting, to only divorce within months. All of these situations are messy and awkward. Lack of funds no doubt complicates the situation even more.
Ariella said…
I don't know for sure, but, given their circles, I would think it likely that the couple met some where in the range of 5-6 times prior to becoming engaged. From the way this was told, it sounded like they were not normally on the phone together just to talk. The reason for the brief engagement would probably be the result of timing. They probably did not to wait until after Lag BaOmer and so scheduled the wedding for the month of Adar. Perhaps it is frowned upon in their circles for engaged couples to get together on the Yomim Tovim, etc., and so they opted to be married before Pesach.
Orthonomics said…
Sounds like there is a lot of blame that could be spread around. I think that a friendship is important in marriage. I do think their are logical limits to how much chatting a couple should do. But there should be an enjoyment in chatting on the phone, etc. If that wasn't happening and someone pointed it out, I imagine it could raise doubts. I imagine that the choice was to marry or not to marry, not to postpone indefinitely.
Orthonomics said…
Indefinitely meaning for a suitable amount of time in order to determine compatibility.
Ariella said…
Really social expectations differ so much according to which particular stripe of Orthodoxy one identifies with. When I was engaged, I spoke with my husband-to-be a few times a week and arranged to spend Yom Tov and many Shabbasos together. I've heard that the Chassidim who have the year-long engagement do not have regular contact over that time. So I'm not sure what the expectations of this particular couple was as far as speaking to each other in those 6 weeks of engagement. Given the plane tickets part of the equation, the distance would have been a barrier to real face-to-face meetings.

You propose an interesting idea -- not canceling but merely delaying the wedding. I haven't ever heard of that happening. The only circumstances I would have imagined that would have lead to such a situation would be a serious illness or death in the family. One doesn't marry while sitting shiva.
Zadok said…
Chaim B.

The Tshuva is in IG'M O'H 4:85.(Even Haezer daled: pey daled)The Tshuva is slightly cryptic as it is equivocal about whether Tenoim were actually written or not.It makes reference to the K'nas of Chatzi Nidania for those who break engagements and the Ksav Mechila the jilted side in an engagement writes out, without explaining them, as they aren't the focus of the Thshuva.Elsewhere in IG'M Rav Moshe talks about the Cherem for breaking an engagement for those don't make a Tanoim.(i.e. even without a Kinyan an engagement is still more than just a verbal agreement)
Frayda said…
Yikes! What a messy and hurtful situation!

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