Am I obligated to give my fiance my engagement ring back during a divorce? 31 Answers as of May 31, 2013

My fiance and I just split. The ring is paid off and in my possession. He is claiming that I must give it back. The split was initially caused by him. He was talking to another woman.

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The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC
The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC | Patrick J. McDonnell
What do you mean, "during a divorce?" If he's your fiance', I assume you aren't yet married. If you never got married, yes, you must give it back. Courts have interpreted an engagement ring as a contract for marriage. If you don't get married the contract is void and you must return the ring. On the other hand, once you're married, the contract has been fulfilled and the wife does not have to give back the ring upon a divorce.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 12/7/2011
Law Office of James Bordonaro
Law Office of James Bordonaro | James Albert Bordonaro
No, I don't think you are required to return the ring. The law views it as a gift not a promise to marry.
Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 12/7/2011
Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
I am confused. Are you engaged or married? If married, the ring is yours. Strange enough, the concept goes like this, it was "given to you as a gift prior to marriage" and is therefore your separate property, in the alternative, is was given to you in exchange for a promise to marry which you did, therefore you earned it prior to marriage. However, if you are engaged - not yet married, the water is a little muddy: He gave it to you in exchange for a promise that he has decided you are excused from keeping. Socially, morally, and traditionally, it is yours (now had you broken off the engagement, all of these say you give it back). Legally - I am not sure I have ever seen this fact pattern brought to the courts.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 12/6/2011
Ashman Law Office
Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
Maybe and maybe not depending on the detailed facts of the case. Discuss this with your lawyer.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 5/31/2013
H. Scott Basham, Attorney at Law, P.C. | H. Scott Basham
Legally speaking, the ring is considered a gift and I don't see where you could be required to return it. From a purely social etiquette point of view, the "rule" is that if the woman breaks off the engagement, she should offer to return the ring. But again, that is just social custom, not law.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 12/6/2011
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
    The ring is a gift to you and consequently now your separate property.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/6/2011
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    If he unilaterally broke off the engagement, you are entitled to keep the ring. If you unilaterally broke off the engagement, he would be entitled to return of the ring to him. "Talking" to another woman does not seem to bean offense serious enough to justify breaking off an engagement - but having an affair with another woman would be one. Unless the subject of their conversation was terminating his engagement to you or something else inconsistent with his intent to marry you, he likely would be entitled to return of the ring.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/6/2011
    Charles Regan Shaw, PLC
    Charles Regan Shaw, PLC | Charles R Shaw
    A divorce from a fiance is a legal impossibility. Get help from a qualified attorney as soon as you can.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/6/2011
    Law Office of James L. Miller
    Law Office of James L. Miller | James Miller
    If he is your fiance what do you mean by divorce. If he is only your fiance courts in California have ruled both ways on the return of an engagement ring. Their ruling will be made on the facts of the case and the circumstances regarding the giving of the ring. It seems that the majority of the courts order the ring to be returned, especially if you ended it.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/6/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    No. An engagement ring is considered a gift and is not marital property that is divided or an asset returned to the person making the gift.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 12/6/2011
    Kelly A. Broadbent, Esq.
    Kelly A. Broadbent, Esq. | Kelly Broadbent
    I'm a little confused by your wording but will address this 2 different ways. Engaged but not married: unless the engagement ring was given as a gift on your birthday, Christmas or other such holiday, you are supposed to return the ring. Married: the ring becomes marital property and should be divided in the property distribution at the time of te divorce.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 12/6/2011
    Anderson & Boback | Janice L Boback
    If he is your fiance that means you have not yet married him so there is no divorce. The ring is a gift in exchange for a promise to marry, if you do not go through with the marriage the ring belongs to your fiance and it must be returned. If, however, you get married and then divorce, the ring belongs to you and does not have to be returned.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 12/6/2011
    Donaldson Stewart, PC
    Donaldson Stewart, PC | Monica H. Donaldson Stewart
    Generally, Arizona law says the ring is a gift "in contemplation of marriage." In other words, if you had married then split up, the ring would be yours, but if you split up prior to the wedding, the ring should be returned to him.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 12/6/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    Your question is confusing because you refer to a fiance and divorce. If you split before the marriage, there is no divorce case involved. Even in a divorce case, the general rule is that the ring is a gift and a gift is not marital property. There might be a legitimate argument that the gift was only made on the specific condition that the marriage occurs but that is not usually supported by the actual facts. If the marriage did not occur, your fiance will have to sue you on some sort of breach of contract theory.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 12/6/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    There is no "divorce" without a marriage. Has there been a marriage or not? Engagement rings in Washington are considered conditional gifts conditioned on your getting married. If you don't get married, there is no gift.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/6/2011
    Pierce Family Law | Rodney Pierce
    Most states look at the engagement ring as a contingent gift. If the parties do not get married, the ring goes to the giver.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/6/2011
    Wolfstone, Panchot & Bloch, P.S., Inc.
    Wolfstone, Panchot & Bloch, P.S., Inc. | Mark Brown
    Under Washington state law, the ring is a gift to you. You are under no legal obligation to return it.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/6/2011
    Petit & Dommershausen SC
    Petit & Dommershausen SC | Tajara Dommershausen
    If you got married, then the ring is yours. It was a gift in anticipation of an event (marriage) which happened. If it is a breakup of an engagement it goes back.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 12/6/2011
    David A. Browde, P.C.
    David A. Browde, P.C. | David Browde
    No.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 5/31/2013
    AyerHoffman, LLP
    AyerHoffman, LLP | Cara Lee Thompson
    Yes, you should return the ring. An engagement ring is considered to be a "gift in anticipation of marriage," so if the marriage does not take place, the gift is not complete and the ring should be returned.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 12/6/2011
    Law Office of William L Spern | William Spern
    An engagement ring is a gift in contemplation of marriage. As you say fiance wants the ring back, I assume you are not married. S the ring was given to be kept if you were married and if you never married, the gift is null and void and must be returned to your fiance.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/6/2011
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law | Gary Moore
    You refer to him as your fiance. You must not be married yet. How could there be a divorce? I will not advise you on the ring, but, if there is not to be a marriage why would you expect to keep the ring?
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 12/6/2011
    Law Office of Cassandra Savoy
    Law Office of Cassandra Savoy | Cassandra Savoy
    I disagree with Judge Judy. I believe that the ring was a gift.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 12/5/2011
    T. Mack Taylor LLC | Mack Taylor
    In Georgia there is no legal obligation to return the ring, it is considered a gift. Since it was purchased prior to the marriage it is not considered marital property.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/5/2011
    PALMER | GEORGE, PLLC
    PALMER | GEORGE, PLLC | Brandie J. Rouse
    An engagement ring is considered a "gift in anticipation of marriage", it is his, gifted to you upon becoming married. Yes, you are obligated to return it.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 12/5/2011
    Peyton and Associates | Barbara Peyton
    An engagement ring is a gift. That makes it separate property which is not subject to division in a divorce.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/5/2011
    Odin, Feldman & Pittleman, P.C.
    Odin, Feldman & Pittleman, P.C. | Richard A. Gray
    The majority opinion in Virginia courts is that the engagement ring was in exchange for a promise to marry. Since the promise to marry has not been fulfilled, the conditional gift of the ring is negated and the ring must be returned.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 12/5/2011
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC | Vincent J. Bernabei
    No. The ring was a gift to you before marriage. It is yours.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 12/5/2011
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