Friday, December 6, 2013

Promise to Marry is Legally Enforceable in Georgia

Getting cold feet and butterflies in the stomach is a part of the of getting married. Fear of the ceremony fear of commitment often play into the stress leading up to actually getting married. Some engaged couples never get around to setting a date for ceremony, while others simply leave their beloved bride or groom standing at the altar. Either way, a broken promise to get married or broken engagement can be a very traumatic. Breaking a promise to get married has legal consequences. On November 22, 92,013, the Court of Appeals of Georgia Affirmed the judgment against Christopher Ned Kelley for breach of a promise to marry and fraud in the amount of $50,000. On December 23, 2004 Kelley proposed marriage to his live-in girlfriend and mother of his child, Melissa Cooper. Kelley bought Cooper a $10,000 engagement ring and continue to live with Cooper, buying a new home and raising the their children. In April 2011 Cooper confronted Kelley about an affair he was having with another woman that extended back prior to the date of his proposal. When confronted, Kelley responded that he wanted to be with the other woman and told his fiancé that she and the children had to move out of the home. Cooper filed suit and following a trial before a judge, was awarded $43,500 in damages for breach of contract and fraud as well as $6500 in attorneys fees. Kelley took case to the Court of Appeals of Georgia and contended that the breach of the contract marry was not enforceable. He claimed that the law prevented the enforcement of the contract claim because it arose out of his meretricious relationship with Cooper and that his actions constitute fraud because they were promises about future acts. In a split 5-2 decision, the Court of Appeals rejected Kelley's claims and affirmed the judgment. Judge Lisa Branch, writing for the majority of the court wrote that deed defense of a contract made involving a meretricious relationship did not apply in this situation. This legal defense is intended to prevent contracts of an illegal or immoral nature such like an agreement to cohabit in exchange for sexual relations. On the other hand, marriage is encouraged under the law and the fact that Cooper and Kelley lived together before and after the engagement was not material to the contract. The Court of Appeals upheld the fraud claim as well. Kelley is correct that claim for fraud can not be made on for a promise to do an act in the future. However a claim can be made if the promisor has no to perform or if the promisor knows that the future event will not take place. Court of Appeals held that there was sufficient evidence to justify a finding that Kelley never intended to marry Cooper when he proposed because of the affair and other circumstances. Kelly's lawyers announced they intend to further appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Georgia. With the dissenting opinions in the Court of Appeals, it is likely that this is not the last of this case. Until then, this opinion is the law of the State of Georgi
a with about a promise to marry. Kelley v. Cooper, Court of Appeals of Georgia Case No.: A13A0982 November 22, 2013