Who will keep the engagement ring after you break off the wedding?
Should the recipient keep the engagement ring if the giver calls off the wedding, or does the giver keep the engagement ring?
And in case the courts are involved, what laws govern keeping engagement rings after canceling the wedding?
Let’s find out more about all these here.
Who keeps the engagement ring after a breakup?
You never really think of a breakup when you envision your lives together, and though things never go as planned and things may go awry, you’ll need to figure out how to deal with things like your engagement ring now that you are broken up.
In some cases, the ring giver may claim or ask for the ring back because they are the ones who paid for it, and in other cases, the recipient might argue that because the ring was given as a mere gift, they should be allowed to keep it.
In other cases, the ring’s recipient might claim ownership of the ring because it was given on the condition of saying yes to the proposal.
In such cases, you might struggle to figure out who should keep the ring, and you may even involve the courts or other legal jurisdictions.
And this is expected because, at one point, that high-value ring symbolized your love and devotion towards each other, and now that things have turned sour, the ring’s monetary value could be the reason for conflict.
So, what happens to the engagement ring after the breakup?
1. Was the engagement ring a conditional or an unconditional gift?
Well, it depends on whether the ring was given as a conditional or an unconditional gift. Essentially, a ring is regarded as the recipient’s property, and they will hold on to it, even after breaking up.
This is the case with unconditional gifts, which are given with no promises attached to them. Engagement rings don’t often qualify as unconditional gifts unless otherwise stated when giving the ring or if you are lucky to live in a state that recognizes an engagement ring as an unconditional gift because of the symbolism behind the rings.
These rings are given as promises, making them conditional gifts in the eyes of the law. In many states, however, the engagement ring is identified as a conditional gift, with marriage being the condition of keeping the ring.
So, its ownership would revert to the giver if the wedding were called off.
If the ring was a gift with no strings attached, this could not be revoked if these three conditions are met:
- One, if the giver gave the engagement ring intentionally as a gift, say as a Christmas or a wedding gift
- Two, if the giver actually gave a ring as a gift to its recipient
- Three, when the recipient accepted the ring as a gift
In these three instances, a judge will uphold the decision that the recipient keeps the ring
2. The nature of the breakup may influence who keeps the ring
There are instances where the conditions or lack of conditions will not come into play when it comes to settling the score and determining who gets to keep the engagement ring because the nature of your breakup would influence the decision on who keeps the ring.
In such instances, the person that calls off the wedding doesn’t get to keep the engagement ring.
It happens because the state you live in sees the engagement as a contract, and the person guilty of breaking things off, in this case, breaching the terms of the contract, is instructed to relinquish ownership of the ring, even if they are the ones who bought the ring.
3. Fault and No-fault Approach
When the engagement is treated as a contract, the ring’s ownership is determined based on a fault/ no-fault approach.
Under the fault approach, the answer to who gets to keep the ring is determined this way – the person who breaks off the engagement isn’t allowed to keep the ring, as mentioned above.
This means that the individual at fault gives the ring back or gives up ownership of the ring. Like any form of breach of contract, the person who’s faulted must receive a remedy that restores the parties to the position they were in previously, regardless of who’s at fault.
In the states where this law is applicable, the party at fault forfeits the ownership of the ring even if the engagement ring was given as a conditional gift.
The states that have a no-fault system, on the other hand, don’t take into account the person that broke off the engagement.
And so, the giver will get the engagement ring back, even if they are the ones that called off the wedding. But even in these states, the giver will not get the ring back if they gave the ring as an unconditional gift.
4. The engagement ring could be treated as a form of compensation
In unique cases, your engagement ring may qualify as some form of compensation, which happens only when both parties agree to and understand this fact.
So, if the lady gives their boyfriend money and also works at his business to improve his business, and he gives her a very valuable diamond engagement ring to appreciate her efforts and also to give their marriage proposition, but the engagement is broken later, the judge would rule that the woman keeps the ring since she’d received it as compensation for the work she’d put into his business.
In the event of a broken engagement, the person who gets to keep the engagement ring may be the giver or recipient, depending on the nature of the ring – was it a conditional or unconditional gift?
In most cases, and for most couples, a ring is regarded as a symbol, not just a gift. And as an important symbol of the engagement, the ring should return to the giver at the end.
Some couples agree with this, others don’t, and there also are many circumstances in which the couples settle things away from lawyers and courts because they make amicable decisions on their own.
So, it all depends on the prevailing circumstances and also state laws.
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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.