The time between getting engaged and finally walking down the aisle can be long, and the stresses of planning a wedding and preparing for a life together can be great. As a result, some couples decide during this time to postpone or call off the wedding and end the engagement. When this happens, there is the important matter of who is entitled to keep the engagement ring.
There are two basic schools of thought around this, one being that it was a gift and the recipient should keep it, and the other being that it was a gift in anticipation of marriage and that the giver should keep it. State laws deal with this issue because the conflict arises quite frequently. However, the specifics of each case matter, and discussions or promises between the couple who is engaged could change the way that laws are interpreted.
For example, a recent court case dealt with a couple living in a state where the giver typically gets the ring back after a broken engagement. However, because of a text message that the person who gave the ring sent to his ex-fiancé, the court found that it had transformed from a gift in anticipation of marriage and was now a “parting gift” to use the man’s own words. As a result of this, the woman was able to keep the ring even though that result is the opposite of what the man expected. This case shows the importance of examining all of the facts in a given situation and not just the default rules, since individuals may make their own agreements that modify their legal standing.
Source: Buffalo News, “Judge rules jilted woman can keep $53,000 diamond engagement ring,” Patrick Lakamp, April 5, 2014.