According 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.