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KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Legal implications of a broken engagement




Most couples get engaged before they get married. If the engagement is called off and there is a dispute between the couple over property or finances, the Family Law Act 1981 allows them to take legal action against each other.

The Act also allows an involved third party (such as a family member) to take legal action. Before the Family Law Act 1981 came into effect, an engagement was considered a legally binding contract. This meant that, if the engagement was broken without lawful justification, the person responsible could be sued for damages for breach of promise. Since the 1981 Act, you cannot take legal action for breach of promise following a broken engagement. These rules relate to engaged couples. Cohabitation (living together) does not necessarily mean that a couple is engaged to marry.

What happens to gifts which have been exchanged between the engaged couple?

When two people who are engaged give gifts (including an engagement ring) to each other, there is a presumption that the gifts will be returned (if requested), should the engagement end. However, if the giver dies, it is presumed any gifts were given without any conditions. In this case, the surviving fiancé(e) can keep the gifts. You can contest either of these presumptions in court if there is evidence to the contrary. These presumptions only apply to gifts given during the engagement. They do not apply to gifts given before or after the engagement.

What happens to gifts from a third party?

If someone gives an engaged couple (or one of the couple) a wedding gift, it is presumed that the couple are joint owners. This can be contested if there is evidence to the contrary. It is also presumed that the gift will be returned (if requested), should the engagement end and the marriage does not take place for any reason. This includes the death of one of the engaged couple. If a third party gives a substantial benefit (not a wedding gift) to one of the couple as a result of the engagement, the third party can take legal action if the engagement ends. For example, if a relative carries out or pays for substantial work to improve a property which the couple had intended to use as their family home, the relative can apply to the courts for compensation.

Can somebody claim compensation for wedding preparation expenses if the wedding is cancelled?

Where an engagement has ended and one of the couple has incurred substantial expenses in preparation for the marriage (and has not benefited from the expenses), that person may apply to the courts for compensation from their ex-fiancé(e). Examples of expenses might include:

Booking the wedding reception
Booking the honeymoon
Hiring a photographer or videographer

A third party (for example, a family member or friend) who incurs expenditure on behalf of one of the couple in preparation for the marriage and has not benefited, may also apply to the courts for compensation.

What are the property rights of engaged couples when the engagement ends?

When a couple (whose engagement has ended) disagrees about the division of property, it is treated in the same way as disputes between a married couple who are separating or divorcing. This only applies to property in which either or both of them had a beneficial interest while they were engaged. It does not apply to property acquired after the engagement ended.

What are the options for legal action?

If your engagement has ended and you want to take legal action, you must do so within three years. Such cases are usually heard in the Circuit Court. However, if very valuable property is involved, you may ask that it be heard in the High Court.

Legal actions in relation to substantial, non-wedding gifts from a third party (or wedding preparation expenses), can be brought in the District Court if the amount sought is under €15,000.

Legal advice should be sought before taking any legal action.

For anyone needing information, advice or have an advocacy issue, you can call a member of the local Citizens Information team in Kerry on 0818 07 7860, they will be happy to assist and make an appointment if necessary. The offices are staffed from Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm. Alternatively you can email on or log on to for further information.



Killarney centre stage for Pride Festival

The award-winning Kingdom Pride in Kerry festival is back next week and Killarney will take centre stage. Kingdom Pride will be celebrated in towns all across the county from July […]




The award-winning Kingdom Pride in Kerry festival is back next week and Killarney will take centre stage.

Kingdom Pride will be celebrated in towns all across the county from July 17 to 21.

The organisation’s flagship Party in the Park event will be held again in Killarney House and Gardens, following the Pride march in the town centre on July 20.

This year, in solidarity with the people of Palestine, Kingdom Pride in Kerry is inviting the people of Kerry to come to show their unity by bringing Palestinian flags and kites to the march, and to the Party in the Park.

“Pride is a protest for human rights all over the world. Here in the Kingdom, we have been so lucky to receive tremendous community support from our allies and supporters, and we see the struggle for liberation of all peoples as a united cause,” said Daniel Quirke, chairperson of the organising committee.

“Our events have always welcomed everyone, regardless of gender, orientation, religion, or nationality. We truly believe that together we can create positive change through caring for and loving one another. This year is no exception, and we look forward to helping to highlight the Palestinian cause, and to bringing people together to keep generating positive change for all people.”

Events will take place in Cahersiveen, Listowel, Killorglin, Tralee and Dingle, and include an Irish comedy night with Áine Gallagher, an Irish-language movie screening, yoga, sea swimming, poetry and storytelling, bowling, pitch and putt, a lively drag night at the INEC, and plenty more for people of all ages.

“We do our best to keep tickets as low-cost as possible, and we have lots of events that are totally free to attend. It is important to us that people can share Pride with us, regardless of income. Especially with the rise of the cost of living putting a strain on people’s pockets.” added the chairperson.


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A weekend of Live Music, Fun and Entertainment, at FleskFest 2024

The organisers of the annual FleskFest have “a tremendous line-up, with a weekend full of entertainment to suit all” for the July 18 to 20 event. “It promises to be […]




The organisers of the annual FleskFest have “a tremendous line-up, with a weekend full of entertainment to suit all” for the July 18 to 20 event.

“It promises to be the festival weekend of the summer, an event you don’t want to miss out on. Last year’s Festival was a fantastic memorable experience for our community, a time to get together and celebrate,” said festival PRO Seán Daly.

Organised by Glenflesk GAA, FleskFest 24 will take place at the Barraduff Community Field next week.
There will be a fully licensed bar in the Fest Marquee, some amazing live music on The Big Stage, food trucks and much more.
Glenflesk GAA club’s biggest fundraiser of the year includes a new-for-2024 Texas Holdem Poker Tournament on Thursday night.
Weekend highlights include old-time waltzing, jiving and polka sets with Paudie McAuliffe and Paudie Coffey Band on Friday,
On Saturday, the new Well Flesk event will take place.
“A morning of self-care and wellness at Flesk Fest featuring masterclasses in yoga, pilates, mindfulness, spinning, fitness sessions, workouts, firewood sauna and ice pods with a range of experienced and qualified instructors,” added Daly.
Leading local musician Johnny Courtney and Friends, Sam and Ina, The O’Donoghue Sisters, Reigning All Ireland Champions Glenflesk Ballad Group, and The Border Boys will take to the Big Stage over the weekend.
Sunday is Family Fun Day with children’s entertainment and disco and the All-Ireland Hurling Final Live on the Big screen followed by music with Thingamajig.
The festival will finish with a Sunday evening session with the Meadhbh Walsh Band.

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