It can sometimes happen that a couple gets engaged and then breaks up prior to marriage. In such cases, many different issues can arise, especially when it comes to property rights. One of the more common disputes has to do with the ownership of an engagement ring after a break up. For instance, some engagement ring disputes may involve issues like:
- Whether the engagement ring can be returned to the party that gave it.
- Issues regarding engagement rings that are non-replaceable or are considered family heirlooms.
- Disputes involving the valuation of the ring.
In many cases, the courts may consider the ring a gift and allow the recipient to keep it. In other cases, the court may consider the ring to be part of an overall promise that concludes with marriage, thus allowing the giver to keep the ring. These determinations will often depend on the jurisdictional rules.
The determination of whether the engagement ring is a gift depends on what state the dispute is in. Some courts follow the concept that the rings is a gift meaning even after a break up, the guy does not get the gift back..
An engagement ring is considered a gift if:
- Intent: The donor or person giving the ring has the intent to give the ring as a gift
- Delivery of Ring: The donor delivers the ring to the donee
- Acceptance of Ring: The donee accepts the engagement ring
The states that consider the engagement ring as a gift are:
The majority of the states hold the concept that the giving of the engagement ring is a condition for marriage. This means that if the condition or marriage does not occur, the man who gave the ring has the right to get it back. The states that follow the conditional gift concept are:
- New York
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
There are some states that consider the engagement ring as a implied conditional gift and the return of the gift depends on who was at fault for ending the engagement or breaking up. These states are called fault-based states. In these states, the ring is considered an implied conditional gift meaning that if the guy breaks up the engagement, the girl gets to keep the ring since she did not cause the breakup. If the woman was at fault for ending the engagement and is the one who breaks up the engagement, then the man has the right to get the ring back because he was not at fault for ending the engagement.
The Implied conditional gift states are:
In some cases, an unmarried couple may form a property agreement. This is a legal document that spells out the property rights of each party. This can be helpful for couples that have been together for a long time but have not been married yet. In this type of situation, the couple may have accumulated large amounts of property together, so a property agreement may benefit them.
Here, the couple may sometimes list an engagement ring (or one that might be potentially given in the future) in the property agreement. This can help eliminate disputes in the future regarding the engagement ring. If the parties still have disputes, they may resolve their issues through a lawsuit or through other options such as mediation.
Property disputes can often be difficult to resolve, especially those that involve valuables such as engagement rings. A qualified family attorney in your area can provide you with advice and representation in the event that you have a dispute and need to file a legal claim. Laws may vary by state, but your attorney can provide you with guidance according to the rules in your region.