Fraudulent Inducement to Marry and Negligent Misrepresentation

A spouse may file an action against the defendant spouse alleging that based upon fraud or deceit she entered the marriage in reliance upon the defendant’s false representations, which were made in order to induce the plaintiff to marry the defendant.

In order for one to file a claim for fraudulent inducement to marry, the plaintiff must prove:

  • The defendant made a false representation as to a matter of fact
  • The defendant had knowledge of its falsity or with reckless indifference as to whether the representation was true or false
  • The defendant had the intention of inducing the plaintiff to act in reliance on the representation
  • The plaintiff acted in reliance upon the false representation
  • The plaintiff’s reliance was reasonable under the circumstances
  • That but for plaintiff’s reliance upon the defendant’s false representations she would not have married or acted the way that she did
  • The plaintiff suffered damage as a result of the defendant’s acts.

In a case alleging fraud in the inducement of a marriage, the plaintiff will generally not recover monetary damages unless her act of reliance involved pecuniary loss or personal injury. For example, in a husband’s action for fraud in the inducement of marriage against his wife, where the wife misrepresented facts about her background, the husband was not entitled to monetary damages.

Some states also recognize the tort of negligent misrepresentation with respect to marriage. With this offense it must be shown by the plaintiff that the defendant intended the plaintiff to rely on the misrepresentation, that the plaintiff reasonably relied on the misrepresentation, and that the plaintiff suffered harm.

Generally, most courts have refused to recognize a claim that the plaintiff was induced to marry the defendant based upon the defendant’s false declarations of love or sexual attraction. If the courts accepted that basis for supporting a claim of fraud every divorce case could also include that claim.