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How engagement rings are handled during divorce

On Behalf of | Nov 8, 2023 | Divorce |

For many people, an engagement ring is an incredibly expensive purchase. For instance, there are those who say that an engagement ring should cost around three months’ salary. Some people spend thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars to buy the right ring. At the time of the purchase, the person who is buying the ring is simply excited to propose and expecting to get married. What happens if they get divorced?

For example, say that you spent $20,000 to buy an extravagant engagement ring for your significant other. You got married, but then your spouse asked for a divorce five years later. You asked them for the ring back, hoping that you could sell it to recoup at least a portion of those costs. But they refused to return it. Should you get the ring back or are they allowed to keep it?

A conditional gift

The issue of who gets the ring when a couple breaks up often depends on when the relationship ends. The reason for this is that an engagement ring is viewed, legally speaking, as a conditional gift. At the moment that you gave that ring to your significant other, you asked them to marry you and they agreed to do so. If they had said that they wouldn’t marry you, you would have kept the ring the entire time.

The gift, in this sense, has been conditional from the very beginning. That condition was fulfilled when you and your spouse got married. If your spouse had broken off the engagement before you tied the knot, then they would have had to return the ring. However, since you are getting a divorce after you have already gotten married, the condition attached to the gift has already been met. Your spouse only had to go through the process of getting married in order for them to be eligible to keep the ring. They are not obligated to stay married forever, and getting divorced in the future does not mean that they have failed to meet the conditions that were set before they took ownership of the gift in question.

A complicated divorce

As you can imagine, issues like this can become very complicated during a divorce, and financial issues often become quite contentious. Seeking legal guidance can help you to understand which assets you’re entitled to and how to go about securing a favorable outcome to your divorce case.