joshguessed

158th Ask Josh – Separation Anxiety

In Uncategorized on October 14, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice.


Mr. Guest, if a couple goes on a vacation to make plans to get married, before they go the woman tells him to get a vasectomy (and he does it!), and he gives her a ring while on the vacation to make it official, who pays what to whom if she cancels the engagement?

Your Biggest Fattest Fan
Dear BFF,
There are so many angles by which we could attack this problem. Some options:
The King Solomon/Newman way:
I always thought this was a fable that somebody made up. Once I saw that it was actually in the Bible I felt a little flabbergasted and ignorant [Heckler: “It took you this long to figure out you’re ignorant?”]. But the story is real. In 1 Kings 3, starting in verse 16 we see the story of the two women who are debating as to who should get to keep the baby. King Solomon asked for a sword and proposed to split the baby in two and give half to each party. The mother who protested and would rather the other mother kept it would be considered the righful owner. In the words of the wise Newman from Seinfeld: “Only the bike’s true owner would rather give it away than see it come to harm.” Seinfeld, Episode 123 – The Seven. See also on YouTube.
Problems: The man takes it all. This does not sit well with the feminists in my readership. They may well say, “What makes you think the woman is going to be pro-splitting?” I promise you, the true owner of the vasectomy will be the first to say no to splitting it down the middle.
The Breached Contract way:
If we were to treat this like a binding contract which the woman later breached, the solution would be for the court to order specific performance or damages. The problem with ordering specific performance is that the court would say the woman would have to go through with the marriage. Since that isn’t legal, it’s going to come down to damages. The man would receive what would be considered reliance damages, costs incurred in reliance and in anticipation of the promise (namely, the marriage) actually going through. Thus, the woman would have to pay for:
1. Her share of the vacation
2. The price of the vasectomy
3. The price of the reverse vasectomy
4a. If she doesn’t return the ring, the price of the ring.
4b. If she does return the ring, the cost of depreciation of the ring, specifically the difference between the original price and the resale price the man receives when he joins the poor souls selling their rings on the Wilk board.
Problem: What if the guy is the one who broke it off? Well, he would have some economic responsibility to costs incurred in anticipation of the wedding. But he still gets the ring back. Sorry ladies, this is not a good time to let your emotions decide to melt the ring down or throw it off a mountain.
Take-It-To-Court Way:
As it happens, there is some precedent in the state of Utah. Check out the case of Hess v. Johnston (2004). In the case, a Mr. [Name Removed] and a Ms. [Name Removed], “started dating in mid-April 2004 and within three months, they decided to marry. The Female found an engagement ring she liked, and The Male commissioned a jeweler to craft one like it. The couple planned to marry sometime in November 2004, but mutually decided that they would take their time in planning the wedding to ensure their finances were in order.” Hess, 163 P.3d 747, 749. She also told him during the engagement that she wanted to go on some trips and that she wanted him to get a vasectomy. The court record simply states that “[The Male] complied with these requests.” Id. [Female] and [Male] took a weeklong trip to Alaska, later another to France for three weeks to meet some friends of hers. He paid for all of it. Also, [Female] got him to pay $2400 towards buying a car for her son.
Problem for the man: “You get nothing! You lose! Good day, sir!” Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, screenplay by Roald Dahl.
Side note: I looked them both up on Facebook. I put up the first picture that came up under each name.
[I have now taken them down, as I see no need to publicize the man’s plight any further, though I still left the case name to prove the accuracy of my story].
As of this writing, the only person on Facebook who shares the name of the Female is “in a relationship” with Jordan. I still don’t approve of the vasectomy, but I get it.
Cage Match
Just let them fight to the death and winner take all. To take the idea from Michael Scott, cage matches always work, otherwise they would still be in the cage. The Office – Episode 21: “Conflict Resolution”, first aired May 4, 2006.
Problem: If the woman still has the ring, she will have an unfair advantage as she will have the weaponry already on hand, pun intended, to unleash some major diamond-cutting on a man who has already been debilitated by his recent vasectomy.
Resort to Advice Columnists


Some of my colleagues have made their opinions clear, at least as concerns the ring. Unfortunately none of them have any vasectomy advice. Luckily, I don’t have to check them all because there is an article in the Washingtonian by Rachel Saifer that references all three of them. I summarized them as follows,
Ann Landers: Whoever ended it, loses it.
Dear Abby: Whoever gave it, gets it.
Miss Manners: The symbol, once obsolete, returns to its origins. Then she mentioned the idea of melting it down or throwing it off a mountain. Remember what I said about the emotions.
Ask a Search Engine
That’s what I did.
Love,
Josh

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  1. Josh! This is the first I've ever read of yours. Wonderful! Love the tone — love the support. Keep it up. :DV.

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