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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.

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MTU hosts Active Ageing Festival at Kerry Sports Academy

Young students got to share their learning skills while an older group showed patience and experience during the ‘Active Ageing Festival’. Held in Munster Technological University last week the event, […]



Young students got to share their learning skills while an older group showed patience and experience during the ‘Active Ageing Festival’.

Held in Munster Technological University last week the event, in conjunction with Kerry Recreation and Sports Partnership (KRSP), saw 150 people engaged with a busy schedule of activities, facilitated by the students and staff of the Department of Health and Leisure Studies.

Dr Barry Moynihan, Consultant Geriatrician in University Hospital Kerry opened the event with an informative talk on the importance of movement as we age.

Many community organisations and networks were represented on the day such as HSE, Baile Mhuire, Kerry Library, Kerry Call, SeanChairde, Centre of Smart Ageing, Probus and Age and Opportunity.

Activities such as Pickleball, Bowls, Better Balance Better Bones, Dance and Yoga were also showcased.

Gearoid O’Doherty, coordinator of the KRSP, highlighted the need for more community-based activities for older adults across Kerry and the role of the partnership in supporting this development.

It is hoped that other venues across the county can facilitate a similar event in the future.

MTU lecturer and event coordinator Eimear Foley, spoke of the mutual benefit that this day provided to both participants and students.

“The real-life experience afforded to the students is immense, with involvement in planning, delivering and evaluation of the event to the fore.”

Within their course, the concept of being active across the lifespan is embedded and this opportunity for the students to engage in real life learning is paramount. Older people can generate community-based learning experiences not only for themselves but also for the young. Many of the participants commented on the professionalism, warmth and enthusiasm of the students, whilst the students were delighted with the patience shown to them and ease of conversation with the participants.

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Killarney to feature on TG4’s Country Music show

By Sean Moriarty A song about Killarney – once made famous by local Country Music hero Dermot Moriarty – will feature on TG4 tomorrow night (Tuesday). The second series of […]




By Sean Moriarty

A song about Killarney – once made famous by local Country Music hero Dermot Moriarty – will feature on TG4 tomorrow night (Tuesday).

The second series of the Irish channel’s County Music show ‘Viva Ceol Tire’, which highlights emerging Country Music talent in Ireland, airs every Tuesday night at 9.30pm.

The next programme will feature Donegal singer David James’ version of ‘Oh Killarney’.

The programme was filmed entirely on location in Killarney including Torc Waterfall, Ladies View Moll’s Gap and Kate Kearney’s Cottage.

“The song was written by Dennis Allen. However, it was a hit for Dermot Moriarty in the 1980s. The first time I heard it I loved it and I was thrilled with the reaction my version has got,” James, who is from the small village of Killean in Donegal, told the Killarney Advertiser.

“It’s pretty rural but I love it. I’ll be in Country Music 10 years this May. My first gig was in the local GAA hall for my aunt’s 50th birthday. I was 14 and I’ve been at it ever since.”



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