While you may be tempted to keep the engagement ring, seeing that you may have been hurt and everyone else is in the wrong and the world against you, you may not hold legal rights to the engagement ring, in which case, you may have to give the engagement ring back.
So, before you start fighting over the ring or if you are unsure who keeps the ring following the broken engagement or wedding vows, you may want to know what the law says about the engagement ring and what happens should things go south.
Do you legally have to give the engagement ring back?
In most states across the country and most of the US courts, the law recognizes the fact that marriage is the one condition that must be met following the receipt of the engagement ring, meaning that in case of a broken engagement and the case taken to court, the receiver of the ring would be required to return the ring to the party that gave the ring.
That said, there are rare instances in which just agreeing to the marriage proposal is considered enough grounds for holding on to the ring, even after the breakup and the receiver would keep the ring.
This is, however, an unusual case that rarely, if ever, happens. In most cases, when an engagement is broken, and the courts are involved, the recipient of the ring will have to return it because keeping the ring is contingent on honoring the engagement.
The rules do not, however, are a little different in the state of Montana, where the state’s engagement ring laws classify the engagement rings as conditional gifts, and the condition to be met is that the two individuals must be married for either party to be entitled to keeping the ring.
That said, the rules differ depending on the state you live in, which is why you should consider the state you reside in to understand the laws that will guide you on what to do with the engagement ring in case of a failed engagement.
Who keeps the engagement ring after a breakup in New York?
If you are engaged in New York, you should know that the legal system in New York deems a failed engagement as a natural occurrence and that the broken promise shouldn’t be seen as a fault by one party or the other, so the ring should be given back to its giver.
However, this rule has two exceptions depending on the state laws. In this regard, the ring is deemed a conditional gift, so the recipient gives a ring back because the event that the ring is contingent on is broken.
However, New York courts will reconsider everything in two circumstances.
- The first is if half of the couple is already married to someone else.
- And secondly, the ring is not to be given back when given to the recipient as a Valentine’s Day gift, a Christmas Gift, or even a birthday gift, especially if the ring was given without any proposal accompanying it. But then again, even this condition comes with a catch in that after the marriage proposal has been extended and then accepted, or after the promise has been made, the day of the year notwithstanding, the ring wouldn’t be considered a gift anymore, but a contract created by the couple to enter into marriage.
- Thirdly, New York courts will reconsider the ring as a conditional gift if the ring is regarded as a form of consideration of payment for a financial agreement made between the couple, say, as a down payment for a house, living expenses, or a loan.
Do you have to give an engagement ring back in Texas?
In Texas, engagement rings are regarded as conditional gifts, meaning that after the proposal and if things don’t work out, you will not own the ring and must give it back.
Texan laws require you to return the engagement ring if you break off the engagement ring or just don’t end up married because the engagement ring is deemed a contract that is broken if the engagement is broken – the engagement ring is considered the promise to marry someone else.
Do you have to give an engagement ring back in California?
In California, if an engagement is broken and a woman receives the engagement ring, they break it, and the woman would have to give back a ring. On the other hand, if the man is the one that calls off the wedding, the woman gets to keep the ring.
This is also the case if you still have the engagement ring many years later but are now divorced – if the man breaks things off, the state of California dictates that the woman keeps the ring.
Engagement ring laws by state
By law, engagement rings are conditional or non-conditional gifts, meaning that keeping the ring after a broken engagement depends on whether the ring was meant as a gift.
In some states, the ring is viewed as a gift the recipient gets to keep as long as they say yes to the proposal. But it may also be conditional on the completion of the marriage, where the recipient gives back a ring if they don’t get married.
In states like Massachusetts, Alaska, Alabama, Kentucky, or New Hampshire, which are also called the fault states, the person that breaks things off has to forfeit their rights to the ring, even if they were the ones who gave a ring, so, the giver doesn’t get back the ring in these fault states.
In most states, however, a no-fault approach is taken to the engagement rings, which means that the giver will keep the ring, regardless of the person that ends or returns from the engagement or marriage.
It is generally the most preferred approach because engagements often end because of mutual agreements or personal issues like pets not getting along, religious differences, or even issues around hostility towards kids.
These issues have set precedents in most states legally, with judges noting that the individual that breaks the engagement should not be asked to give back a ring as punishment. Today, this is the most widely accepted approach across the US.
You may or may not have to give back the engagement ring to the giver after a broken engagement depending on the state you live in and the state laws concerning the engagement rings. You shouldn’t assume that you get to keep the ring.
Stephanie is a jewelry lover when she was a teenager. Her major was fashion design when she was in college. She is a jewelry designer at SOQ Jewelry and other design companies. Now she is also a writer for our website. She writes a lot of designs&brands posts with very actionable tips.