Interspousal Gifts

Giving gifts and surprises to our family can be a lot of fun both for the giver and the family member receiving the gift.  These gifts can range from a small token up to a lavish gift such as a new car.  When a relationship falls apart, one of the issues in almost every divorce is that of property division.  If you and your spouse have exchanged gifts during the marriage, you may be wondering how those gifts will figure into the division of property during your divorce.

New Jersey is what is referred to as an “equitable distribution” state.  This means that when parties divorce, the court will make an equitable (although not necessarily equal) distribution of the parties’ marital assets.  The court will look to a list of factors in deciding what will be the most fair, or equitable, division of those assets.  By contrast, assets which are considered “separate assets” are not subject to distribution, and will solely belong to just the owning spouse.  Accordingly, the key to understanding how the court will handle interspousal gifts during divorce is to understand whether those gifts are marital property or separate property.

The general rule is that any property acquired during the marriage is typically marital property.  In other words, if you buy a necklace for your wife during marriage, the value of that necklace is considered marital property.  If you and your spouse divorce and the necklace is valuable, the court may decide to include the value of the necklace when balancing the scales in property division.

One interspousal gift that comes up quite often in divorce is the engagement ring.  In many cases, the engagement ring is a very valuable piece of jewelry.  Moreover, it represents a significant emotional investment.  It is not uncommon for a jilted husband to request the return of the engagement ring in the divorce.  However, the engagement ring is considered a “conditional gift.”  The gift of the ring is conditional on the wife fulfilling the promise of marrying the husband.  Once she completes this condition, the ring belongs solely to her, and is separate property.  Typically the only way the value of the ring may be divided is if during the marriage, the parties decided to enhance the ring by replacing the stones.  Even then, it is common that the court will divide the value of the new stone, not necessarily the entire ring.

If you have questions about property division, let us answer them.  We can talk with you about how the court is likely to treat the property and debt in your divorce.

Are you interested in seeking an annulment? If so, contact Williams Law Group, LLC right away. Our family law attorneys will review your case to determine if an annulment is an option. If it is, we will guide you through the process and ensure you make the best decisions for your future. Call our office at (908) 738-8512, email us at, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation

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