Legal Question in Civil Litigation in New Jersey

Broken Promise

I got involved with my former fiance. He was separated from his wife and they agreed t wait the 18 months. We went on vacation in Florida, were we met with a builder and we had a house built, unfortunately my name wasn't on the house because I had to file bankrupcy due to my divorce. I picked out the carpeting the floors, the appliance, the works. I quit my job and we relocated to Florida. One morning in June he informed me that he missed his family. I couldn't believe it, so I moved back to New Jersey. We lived together for almost two years him? I gave up my life for him, and a very good job. He chased me and made many promises and told many people that I would be his wife He has caused a lot of mental anquish and depression So can I sue him?

Asked on 10/17/04, 4:38 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Alan Albin Alan S. Albin, Attorney at Law

Re: Broken Promise

You CAN sue, the question is: do you have a legally valid cause of action, which can avoid dismissal at the early stages of the lawsuit? Second, assuming you have a legally valid cause of action, is it worth your time, expense, and aggravation to pursue it? Since each case is specific to its own facts, you need to retain an attorney and have a detailed consultation to determine what, if any, legal action you should take.

In general, you cannot sue simply for a "broken heart." If you had an agreement or agreements with your fiancee, which are deemed to be valid and enforceable contracts, you may be entitled to a recovery, if and only if you can prove your fiancee's responsibility, and the amount of your damages. (You might also be able to recover under "quasi contract", promissory estoppel, and or detrimental reliance--i.e. you did not have a contract, but you took or did not take action based on reliance on your fiancee's promises.)

You do not indicate that you actually contributed any money to the construction of the house, if not, you would not be entitled to reimbursement for the construction costs.

You quit your job, however, you did so knowing that your fiancee was still married ("separated"). A court could well decide that there was clearly a chance that your fiancee would decide not to marry you--whether due to returning to his existing spouse, or for whatever other reason. Indeed, you also had the option to change your mind about the relationship at any time.

It is possible that you might have a cause of action for intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress, but generally, "broken heart" cases can be very difficult if not impossible to pursue. Again, you need to actually consult with an attorney to determine your legal rights, obligations, and options.

I strongly recommend that you consult with an attorney immediately so that you can explore your legal rights, obligations, and options. If you wish to discuss retaining my services, contact me at:

[email protected]


(*Licensed in New Jersey, Maryland, and Dist. of Columbia)

[Disclaimer: The above comments are not intended as nor should they be relied upon as "legal advice", which can only be obtained by personal consultation with a retained attorney; at which time the specific facts and circumstances of your case can be thoroughly evaluated. This reply is provided for general informational and educational purposes only, and does not create an attorney-client relationship with the responding attorney.]

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Answered on 10/18/04, 11:23 am

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