Broken Engagement: who gets the ring?

We vow not to mention the infamous “kouple” whose 72-day marriage recently started and ended in the media glare.  While wedding invitations and favors may be ironic keepsakes stashed in drawers of their 400+ wedding guests, handling of the 20.5 carat ($2 million) engagement ring is a more complicated situation.

wedding invitations

Not surprisingly, the matter of engagement ring ownership after a breakup is often a sticky issue.  Sticky enough that most states have laws governing this issue. 

InCalifornia, it depends on who broke the engagement so if the bride breaks it off she must return the rock. 

In New York, North Carolina, Minnesota, Tennessee and some other states, courts consider engagement rings to be conditional gifts that must be returned to the gift giver if the condition (a.k.a. the marriage) does not take place.  And this is regardless of who broke off the engagement. 

In Kansas and Montana, a given gift cannot be taken back. 

Many courts consider the engagement ring a simple gift if it is given on a birthday or holiday such as Christmas or Valentine’s Day.  In these cases, returning the ring is not required if the promise of marriage is broken.

For states without such ‘engagement ring’ laws, rulings and guidance from nearby states are usually considered in cases appearing before the court. 

So if the gossip mags are correct, that 20.5 carat sparkler should be returned from bride to groom in this latest big California breakup.  Next issue: what to do with those wedding gifts…stay tuned for a future Invite & Delight blog on this topic.

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