Currently the caselaw in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania seems to say that an engagement ring is a “Conditional gift”. A conditional gift is one that a person gives with the expectation of receiving something in return. Although you really can’t sue an individual solely for breaking a promise to marry you, in the case of an engagement ring, if a marriage does not occur, in many situations, the giver of the ring is entitled to get his (or her) engagement ring back. This is often but not always the case.

Prenuptial Agreements

Where one or both of the individuals entering into a marriage have significant funds prior to the marriage, a PA family lawyer might advise either or both of the individuals to enter into a Prenuptial agreement. If the couple later divorces, the prenuptial agreement(s) they had in place are generally enforced. In some cases, such as those where fraud or misrepresentation existed when the prenuptial agreement was being created, or there was a lack full and fair disclosure of financial assets when the parties entered into the agreement, a prenuptial agreement can be contested. Surprisingly, in many cases, the reasonableness of the agreement is not relevant.


In Pennsylvania, there are generally two things required to get married: one is a license; the other is a ceremony. Generally, the ceremony must be conducted by clergy or civil officers empowered to administer oaths. Pennsylvania is one of the few states left that sometimes also recognizes the common law marriage if it was created prior to January 2, 2005. Caselaw seems to say that in order for a common law marriage to exist, a male and a female must actually exchange vows to each other in the present tense, as well as hold themselves out to their community as married in order to have a common law marriage.

Contrary to many myths (i.e., the “seven year rule”) There is generally no minimum period of cohabitation to be considered married!

For more information on your rights concerning engagements, prenuptial agreements, common law marriages or any other matrimonial law issue please contact Pittsburgh PA prenuptial agreement lawyer Bethany L. Notaro, Esquire.