Who Keeps the Engagement Ring?

Getting engaged is a very thrilling time.  Two people agreeing to build their life together and face life’s challenges as a team is an exciting prospect.  Planning the wedding and planning for all the years to come is an important time in the couple’s life.  Traditionally, the engagement is started when one person presents another with an engagement ring.  These rings can be quite varied in size, style, and cost.  What does not tend to vary, however, is that if the relationship turns sour, the parties may be left wondering who gets to keep the engagement ring.

In New Jersey, an engagement ring is considered a “conditional gift.”  The condition of the gift is marriage.  In other words, the recipient being able to keep the gift of the engagement ring is conditioned on the marriage actually taking place.  If the marriage never takes place, the person who received the engagement ring must return it to the giver.  New Jersey is different from many other states in this regard.  In many states, whether the recipient is obligated to return the ring is conditioned on a determination on who was at fault for the break down of the relationship.  For example, if the giver cheated on the recipient and that was the reason the marriage never takes place, the recipient would not have to return the ring.  New Jersey does not have such a rule – regardless of fault, the recipient will have to return the ring if the marriage never takes place.

The next inquiry comes into play when the marriage has already taken place.  If the marriage has already happened, does the person who initially gave the ring get to ask for the ring to be returned?  The answer is that after the marriage has happened, the ring belongs solely to the recipient.  Regardless of the value of the ring or even if it was a family heirloom in the giver’s family, the recipient can keep the ring free and clear of any claims of the giver.  This is true even if the recipient was at fault for the marriage’s demise.

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Division of property in a family law case has many nuances.  Contact us today and let us talk to you about your case and how we can help you. 

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