Long ago, a promise to marry someone acted just like any other binding contract. That meant that if a person did not follow through with their promise to marry another, they could be sued because they were in breach. Law suits over a broken promise to marry usually focused on three areas:
- The benefits to be had from the marriage
- Any losses incurred from the broken promise to marry
- Injuries suffered as a result of the broken promise. Injuries like humiliation, anxiety, and depression were commonly compensated
In some states, these laws focus on criminal conversion or alienation of affection. However, many courts began to disfavor awarding another person for a broken promise to marry them. As a result, many states passed "Heart Balm" laws, which abolished the ability to sue for a breach of a promise to marry.
What States Have Heart Balm Laws?
Not all states have Heart Balm laws, but the following states do have laws that abolish the ability to sue for a breach of a promise to marry:
- New Jersey
- New York
- New Hampshire
- West Virginia
Do I Need an Attorney?
If you think you are entitled to compensation because of a broken promise to marry, or are being sued over a broken promise to marry, it would be wise to contact a family law attorney. Only they will be able to explain the issue to you and help protect your rights.