Breach of Promise to Marry

Love is not totally alien to law. The Supreme Court once quoted the truism that “the heart has reasons of its own which reason does not know.” Now, what if someone you love promises to marry you but then refuses to honor that promise?

This, of course, is a breach of promise to marry. However, a breach of promise to marry does not automatically entitle the offended party to an award of damages. This is the issue in the 1964 case of Wassmer vs. Velez (G.R. No. L-20089). Let’s briefly discuss the case.

In the words of the Supreme Court, the facts that culminated in that case started with dreams and hopes, followed by appropriate planning and serious endeavors, but terminated in frustration and, what is worse, complete public humiliation.

A couple, following their mutual promise of love, decided to get married and set a date for the wedding. They applied for and was issued a marriage license. Invitations were printed and distributed to relatives, friends and acquaintances. The bride-to-be’s trousseau, party dresses and other apparel for the important occasion were purchased. Dresses for the maid of honor and the flower girl were prepared. A matrimonial bed, with accessories, was bought. Bridal showers were given and gifts received. And then, with but two days before the wedding, defendant, who was then 28 years old,: simply left a note for plaintiff stating: “Will have to postpone wedding. My mother opposes it…” He enplaned to his home city in Mindanao, and the next day, the day before the wedding, he wired plaintiff: “Nothing changed rest assured returning soon.” But he never returned and was never heard from again. The would-be bride sued the runaway groom.

The case is not merely for a breach of promise to marry, which is not an actionable wrong. In fact, Congress deliberately eliminated from the draft of the new Civil Code the provisions that would have it so. It must not be overlooked, however, that the extent to which acts not contrary to law may be perpetrated with impunity, is not limitless for Article 21 of said Code provides that any person who wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damage.

To formally set a wedding and go through all the preparations and publicity, only to walk out of it when the matrimony is about to be solemnized, is quite different. This is palpably and unjustifiably contrary to good customs for which defendant must be held answerable in damages.

5 thoughts on “Breach of Promise to Marry

  1. Selene

    I was jilted but not in the wedding day. My ex boyfriend broke up with me but promised to marry once he gets back. But 3 months after he left, he broke up with me telling me that he didn’t love me anymore. We have all the papers filed and was supposed to get married but it didn’t happen. Can I still file a complaint? But I don’t want his money or anything.I just want him get jailed as a retribution to what he did to me. I forgot to mention I had a miscarriage. He felt relieved knowing I had one and that we’re not going to have a baby anymore.

    Reply
    1. Tepen 18

      This is a really late reply but the mere breach of promise to marry is, generally, not an actionable cause. You may, however, file a claim for any money advanced for the preparation thereof.

      Reply
    2. Venus

      In New York, which Philippine Law School, the American Law, they have what you call as civil case for palimony, where the offended party can claim for payment because of separation of relationship, that if you will file with the Lawyer. I have the same case, and I think I will file for damages.

      Reply
  2. Venus S. Yap-Sy

    Palimony unlike alimony, which is typically provided for by law, palimony is not guaranteed to unmarried partners. There must be a clear agreement, written or oral, by both partners stipulating the extent of financial sharing or support in order for palimony to be granted. Palimony cases are determined in civil court as a contract matter, rather than in family court, as in cases of divorce.[4] In the State of New Jersey, palimony cases are tried in Family Court.[citation needed]

    In states that recognize palimony, there is variance in the factors that are taken into consideration by the court and the weight that these factors are given:[5]

    Cohabitation
    Length of the relationship
    Commitment between partners that one would financially provide for the other for life
    Promises between partners that can be proven
    Written financial agreements
    Ability of the plaintiff to support themselves financially
    Giving up a career to provide services such as care of the home or children
    Sacrifices made by one partner to put the other partner through college
    Disparity in income
    Oral or implied contracts are often taken into consideration also.

    In 1983, only three (3) states legally rejected palimony.[6] But as of 2016, twenty-four (24) states legally reject palimony.

    Reply

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