An engagement ring for Christmas? Hmm . . .

christmas-engagementAccording to WOKV, a state court in Georgia recently ruled that Christopher Ned Kelley owes his former fiancee Melissa Cooper, with whom he lived for more than a decade, $50,000 for cheating on her. He had fathered her child and given her a $10,000 ring, promising to marry her. Cooper had resigned from her job to raise their child, depending on Kelley to provide for his family, but when she found out Kelley had cheated on her for a second time, she sued him for fraud and for “breach of promise to marry.” She also broke off the engagement and kicked him out of their home.

His defense was that he never intended to marry her. Here’s his statement: “I never initiated the concept of marriage with her, outside of giving her that ring,” he said. “I never said the words ‘will you marry me’ to her.” I guess the ring and the baby were a ploy. He said that she was actually his prostitute. He paid for things, and she provided sexual services for him.

Georgia abolished common law marriages in 1997, so she had no grounds there, and I don’t understand why she didn’t break it off the first time he cheated on her. Besides, he is clearly not husband material. He doesn’t even know the difference between a statement and a question.

I think the case is interesting. Gentlemen, be warned. If you give her an engagement ring and a baby, you have promised to marry her, even if you have cleverly avoided asking the question.

In Regency times, engagements were legally binding. Before a formal engagement, young ladies were expected to be chaste, but once the engagement was announced, the rules were substantially relaxed. Therefore, a broken engagement ruined both the reputation of the lady and the pocketbook of the gentleman. Because the woman was unlikely to find another suitor with such a blot on her character, her male relative could sue the jilter, most often resulting in his payment of a fine (250 pounds). Occasionally, the man would choose instead to marry the lady, though I would not have been amenable to that arrangement for a daughter of mine. That’s too similar to the redneck “shot gun weddings” of them thar hills.

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12 thoughts on “An engagement ring for Christmas? Hmm . . .

  1. “Your honor, it is clear that I wanted to marry her. I gave her a ring and a child. I took care of her all those years. The implications of my actions make my intentions clear.” I wonder what the ruling would have been if the man had sued? Forced marriage? Doubtful.

    • Now there’s a question.

      It’s different in that a man cannot have children. But what if a fellow had agreed to marry a woman and quit his job in order to be house husband to her children from a first marriage? If she threw him out, would he be granted a financial award like this?

      • While our present culture makes child-bearing the ultimate unfairness, I think, in many ways, it’s the trump card of trump cards.

      • This is one of those, “it’s only fair” sorts of rulings. It may also be a just one. When the sexes are switched, fairness and justice are turned on their collective ears.

        Fun to wonder on.

      • I wonder, though. If the gal didn’t have a “career” to quit, would the cash award have been as high?

        Part of this could be about the lost income potential. A young woman with a lower-paying “job” might not have fared as well? Or, more likely, she might not have had the resources to take her ex-fiance/child’s father to court!

  2. So she was, in essence, his concubine. An ancient institution, and one not particularly complimentary to the status of women. In other words, she had all the responsibilities and duties of a wife, but none of the legal protection. How did she feel, I wonder, hearing him say that she was “his prostitute”? Degraded and humiliated, oh yes. I would want to gouge his eyes out!

    And what did the gal he “cheated with” get for her “services,” I wonder? Dinner and a movie?

    Women, wise up.

    Well, a court can award a monetary judgment, but good luck collecting it! I’m willing to bet this gal never sees the $50k.

    • I agree she was his mistress, not his wife, and she was foolish to think otherwise. The other women are even less wise.

      Even if she gets the $50K, that won’t last very long with today’s economy. He really should have to pay child support for his baby.

  3. So much for the notion that women are more intelligent than men. I think the children, short of Divine intervention, are doomed.

Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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