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What Happens to an Engagement Ring After An Unmarried Couple Separates?

Sometimes, engaged couples decide against the decision to marry. But, what happens with the engagement ring, which, in most cases, is quite a large investment? Many couples who choose to separate before marriage often struggle with the following questions: Where does it go? Who gets it? Who doesn't get it? To help couples understand more, our Bergen County family law lawyers have addressed such questions and concerns using our legal experience.

In most cases, the courts treat such an issue as a situation where a donor, which is the person giving the ring, gives the gift to the donee, the person receiving the gift. At that point, the ring is considered a "legal gift." A legal gift is an item that does not have to be returned at all. The giving of the gift accomplishes the following three things:

  • The intention to give
  • The delivery of it
  • The acceptance of it

As a result, the person proposing the other for marriage had to intend to give the ring, deliver the ring, and the other, the donee, provided the engagement progressed before breaking up, had to accept the ring.

However, there is the concept of the "conditional" gift. With this concept, courts consider the intention of marriage as an incomplete act, meaning that the acceptance of marriage does not necessarily mean the deal has been solidified. As a result, if a person proposes to another, but the intention to marry does not reach its full completion, the conditional gift may be considered null and void. So then, in some cases, the argument of the "legal gift" does not hold in court. Consequently, the person who gave the ring to the other individual may be able to retrieve the gift.

Still, family law courts all over the nation have their polarizing views on it – the gift of the ring is absolute or it is conditional. Most often, these types of situations have to be handled on a case-by-case basis. For this reason, couples who wish to separate during engagement should consider involving a skilled family law attorney to ensure their rights are protected.

To speak with a New Jersey family law attorney, call our legal team at Moskowitz Law Group, LLC right away. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!