Brief Fact Summary. The Plaintiff, Boehme (Plaintiff), brought a claim against the Defendant, Fiege (Defendant), for his breach of a contract to pay for expenses as a result of the birth of his bastard child and to provide for its support upon the condition that Plaintiff would not bring a bastardy charge.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Forbearance to assert an invalid claim, by one who does not have an honest belief in the claim’s validity, is not sufficient consideration for the contract.
To support a compromise it is sufficient that the parties entering into it thought, at the time, there was a bona fide question between them, though it may eventually turn out there was in fact no such question.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Does a contract by a putative father to support an illegitimate child in order to avoid a bastardy charge have sufficient consideration?
Held. Yes. Forbearance on the part of the Plaintiff to not bring a bastardy suit is valid consideration to enforce the contract.
If the mother of the bastard child knows there is no foundation, in law or fact, for a bastardy claim, then there is no valid consideration and the contract is not enforceable. However, the promise of a man to pay the mother to avoid embarrassment of a bastardy charge, where the child ends up not being the biological offspring of the father, is valid consideration.
Discussion. The court likens consideration to a bone fide claim and a reasonable basis for support. If there is a reasonable basis then there is a bargained for exchange between the two parties and valid consideration.