You proposed to your spouse, giving them an engagement ring and asking them if they would marry you. They said yes and accepted the ring. It was an important transaction in your life, and potentially an expensive one, with the average engagement ring costing more than $6,000.
Fast forward a few years, and your spouse asks for a divorce. Do they have to give you the ring back, or do they get to keep it?
It was a conditional gift
The way that the law often views engagement rings is as conditional gifts. They are separate property, because they are given before marriage, so the person who received the ring owns it. But this is only true if the conditions are met.
This may make you think that divorce would be grounds to get the ring back. After all, you wanted to be married and your spouse has now decided not to stay married to you. Doesn’t that break the very conditions under which you gave them the ring to begin with? You wouldn’t have offered it to them if you knew the marriage would end.
But what courts will often say is that an endless marriage is not the condition. The only thing the other person actually agreed to was to get married. After the two of you are legally married – whether you do it in a courthouse or with a big ceremony in a church – that condition has been met. Henceforth, the ring would only be the possession of your spouse, and they would not have to return it because of a divorce.
There can be exceptions to this, however, such as if you used a prenuptial agreement or a family heirloom. It’s very important that you understand all of your legal rights during a divorce.