Breach of promise, although not actionable in most jurisdictions, is a breach of a promise to marry another; in other words, it is a broken engagement. It is a tort against the breaching party. The principle of breach of promise treats the promise to marry as an enforceable contract which may entitle the non-breaching party to receive damages. However, such an action has been barred in most of the jurisdictions and does not give rise to a valid cause of action.
For example, the California Civil Code § 43.4 provides that “A fraudulent promise to marry or to cohabit after marriage does not give rise to a cause of action for damages.” Similarly, Title 23 of Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes provides that “All causes of action for breach of contract to marry are abolished”. A similar provision abolishing a cause of action arising out of a claim for breach of promise is also provided in § 80-A of Consolidated Laws of New York.
[Last updated in December of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]