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She said: ‘I will, I won’t, I want the ring’

He hit the right marks.

Although they already shared a home, he spoke to her mother to ask for her hand in marriage.

He went down on one knee and presented her with an engagement ring. An engagement ring valued at $46,646, that she wanted to keep when she broke off the engagement and moved out of their apartment.

He went to court, and the judge agreed that she must return the ring.

Although Virginia’s “Heart Balm Act” prohibits suits for breach of a promise to marry, the Loudoun County Circuit Court is the latest to say the statute does not bar a demand for return of property given on the condition of marriage.

The intention behind the Heart Balm Act was not to prohibit the return of engagement gifts, said Judge Thomas D. Horne. In his Nov. 6 opinion in Peter v. Langley, Horne followed the “majority view” that such statutes go no further than barring actions for damages suffered from loss of marriage and do not affect the parties’ common law rights and duties “relative to gifts passing between them.”

A 1941 Virginia Supreme Court case, Pretlow v. Pretlow, also supports this approach, Horne said. Based on that court’s “rulings of common-law principles of gift-giving,” Horne ordered the defendant to return the ring to her former fiance.

 

 

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