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Child abduction
Again and again there is widespread media coverage of cases of child abduction. This refers to cases in which one parent takes a child to another country or does not bring it back from there, thus violating the custody rights of the other parent. Only recently the Supreme Court again
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Engagement, in love, but not married?

It is said that it is bad luck to be engaged for too long. It is said that you should get married within a year after the engagement. Many couples who get engaged do get married. Either within a year or later. But is it only bad luck not to get married (within a year), or can it legally become a problem? Some people also make financial advance payments in view of the supposedly imminent wedding. Down payments are made, rings or dresses are bought. If the “happiest day” in life does not come about, the question of (financial) damage limitation may arise, or rather, who will have to bear the costs in the end.

What is an engagement legally?

It is considered romantic to get engaged. The idea of marriage. Legally, an engagement is the promise of two people to marry each other. A promise that can be made “conclusively”, i.e. without being expressed in concrete terms, for example by exchanging rings. It is also not necessary to specify when, how and where you will marry. An engagement can even be agreed on when both people take specific actions to organize the upcoming wedding. However, an engagement can be broken off at any time, even unilaterally. Marriage is not enforceable, i.e. it makes no sense to legally force or even sue someone to actually get married. But beware: nevertheless, certain legal consequences are already associated with an engagement.

(Possible) legal consequences of an engagement

The legal consequences of an betrothal become particularly noticeable if the engagement fails or is dissolved, i.e. before marriage is entered into. If one person breaks off the engagement for no reason, the other, blameless person may be entitled to financial compensation or damages. Likewise, the person who “had” to break off the engagement for a good reason because the other person did not turn out to be a good future partner may be entitled to damages. Reasons for breaking off an engagement could be, for example, infidelity, tendency to drink, character weaknesses or inappropriate behavior towards the partner, violence, previous convictions, etc. But also, if the partner does not agree on essential religious or ideological issues, this may constitute a reasonable ground for breaking off an betrothal. There are no damages if both persons have good reasons for withdrawing.

 

What can be replaced and to what extent?

What is not compensated is compensation for the disappointment suffered. So there is no “compensation for pain” for hurt feelings. Nor can compensation be made for reduced chances of marriage or compensation because one may have rejected another (lucrative) marriage proposal. According to the law, only the financial damage is to be compensated, i.e. the damage (reduction of assets) that would not have occurred without the engagement. This can be, for example, the costs of the betrothal party, the sending of cards concerning the engagement, the expenses for the wedding preparation (wedding party, sending of advertisements, honeymoon) or also expenses for the (future) common place of residence (flat, furnishings). If, for example, a person has given up his or her own job in view of the impending marriage, claims for loss of earnings may also come into consideration under certain circumstances.

What about the engagement ring?

In Austria, it is now customary to give a ring as a gift on the occasion of an betrothal, the so-called engagement ring. Most of the time, such a ring has a not insignificant financial value. If you now decide not to marry the other person, for example because he or she has slept with your best friend, you might at least want the expensive ring back. If someone gives something to the partner because of the engagement, these gifts can be revoked, if the marriage – through no fault of the person giving the gift – does not come about. Specifically, the person who is not at fault is to be placed in the same position as if he or she had not relied on the marriage. In this context, expenses and gifts in view of the marriage, as well as the engagement ring, are to be reimbursed.

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