Engagement is one of the most beautiful moments in your life together, a big step towards marriage and a common future. Usually, people get married within 12 months after that, but human relationships are not always made to last forever. About 7% of all couples separate after the engagement without getting married.
By what means can an engagement be annulled?
In contrast to marriage, which is officially concluded at the registry office and can only be divorced before the family court after a certain separation period, the dissolution of an engagement is very straightforward.
Legally, considered in terms of the BGB, an engagement is a kind of contract concluded by a declaration of wanting to marry the other person and an affirmation of this offer as an acceptance. However, this does not result in an obligation to marry; the engagement is a non-binding promise. The most romantic promise imaginable, but law and romance traditionally have little in common.
The annulment is very simple, you simply need a unilateral expression of will to dissolve the engagement. As with entering into an engagement, no written form or appointment with an authority is required, it is perfectly sufficient to tell your partner that you no longer wish to be engaged. With this, the engagement is called off. The exact wording doesn’t matter, one short sentence and you’re relieved.
Out of respect for your partner, whom after all you once wanted to marry, the disengagement should, if there are no decisive reasons against it, take place in a personal conversation. Theoretically, however, a phone call, a message via WhatsApp, a short SMS or an e-mail is also sufficient.
What are the consequences of breaking off the engagement?
For most couples, dissolution means that they both go their separate ways and nothing else happens. However, disengagement can sometimes have consequences if a partner has already made investments or given gifts in anticipation of a subsequent marriage, in reliance on the promise of marriage. This could be, for example, the purchase of a wedding dress, advance payments for the wedding party that are not refundable, even the engagement ring is included here.
These costs and also the ring can be reclaimedby the partner who broke off the engagement. However, this does not happen automatically when the engagement is broken off, rather the individual has 3 years to specifically request reimbursement or surrender.
This does not include costs for the marriage proposal itself. If, for example, you have organized a lavish engagement party or a costly proposal by helicopter, you cannot reclaim these expenses, as they were incurred in the run-up to the engagement and not in the knowledge of a concrete promise to marry.
What are the reasons for breaking off an engagement?
You do not need a specific reason to break off an engagement. Sometimes feelings change over time, the first great infatuation does not turn into love, but simply disappears. Even a perfect marriage proposal on the beach or many years together in harmony are no guarantee for a lasting happy relationship. A breakup always means hurt feelings, but a disengagement before marriage is always better for both parties than an unhappy marriage that ends in divorce years later.
The most common reasons for breaking off an engagement are the same as those that cause relationships to fail at an earlier or later date. Cheating, a new love, different ideas for your shared future, the families do not understand each other, their own life goals have changed. Human emotions cannot be controlled, bonds today are rarely rationally planned decisions.
Tip: There are many good reasons to break off an engagement but just as many to talk to each other and try to solve existing problems together. This is not always possible, but communication can sometimes remove even seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Can I prevent the engagement from being broken off?
If your partner often makes erratic decisions and breaks the engagement in a quarrel and they reconcile afterwards, it is quite enough to simply ignore the breakup. By common consent, they are immediately engaged again, as if nothing had happened.
You cannot really prevent a break-up, however, because unlike engagement, which both must want, the decision of a single personis enough for disengagement. Even if you don’t agree to the engagement being broken off by your sweetheart or loved one, that doesn’t stand in the way of the breakup.