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Why does the law treat engagement rings differently from other gifts? The answer is rooted in a history in which courts generally entertained litigation over broken engagements. As legislatures slowly abolished actions for breach of promise to marry in the early and middle decades of this century, on the grounds that such actions were inconsistent with modem understandings of love and marriage, one potential fact pattern for successful plaintiffs emerged: the case in which a man sues a woman for the return of his engagement gifts.

The history and logic of this body of law-the rules of engagement invite examination.

Publication Citation

107 Yale L.J. 2583 (1997-1998)

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Family Law Commons