While it may sound archaic, Georgia and roughly half of the United States allow "breach of promise to marry" lawsuits — suing someone for breaking off a marriage engagement.
The law originates from the early eighteenth century when the dissolution of an engagement represented a potential financial loss for the bride-to-be. During that time, women were also more likely to give their virginity to a man under the promise of marriage. The law was also intended to prevent men from jilting a woman for doing so.
Other states, like Florida, have laws that explicitly prohibit such lawsuits: "The rights of action heretofore existing to recover sums of money as damage . . . breach of contract to marry are hereby abolished."
A breach of promise to marry lawsuit was filed in Georgia as recent as 2013.
Christopher Kelley proposed to Melissa Cooper with a $10,000 engagement ring. Assuming her fiancé would financially provide for them, Cooper then quit her job to focus on raising their children.
But when Cooper discovered that Kelley was cheating, she filed a breach of promise to marry lawsuit against him.
The court, in turn, awarded Cooper $50,000 plus attorney fees. Kelley appealed the ruling, but lost.
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