Keith B. Schulefand, Esq.
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Who gets to keep the ring if the engagement is called off?

It seems that engagement rings used to be more modest in size. Recent years, however, have seen a major shift where the ring is one part of a destination wedding on an isolated beach in the Caribbean or a big-ticket hometown wedding.

The process of planning and paying for a wedding can cause a lot of stress, even causing some to break off the engagement. While there is a lot of emotional turmoil to sort through, there can be a few financial issues as well, including what should happen to the engagement ring. 

Fiancee refuses to give it back

A Washington, DC, lawyer is suing his ex-fiancée over returning a 4.06-carat engagement ring that had cost him $100,000. According various news sources, the man initially planned to spend $40,000 on an engagement ring, but the woman wanted something larger with very specific quality standards. He relented and took out $30,000 loan and carried the remaining cost on a credit card. Now that the marriage is off, is she legally obligated to return the ring?

Engagement ring is a conditional gift

New York law stipulates that the ring must be returned if no marriage occurs, even if the fiancée moves to another state. The reasons for the breakup are not considered in that obligation. However, there is precedence for an exception: the ring is just a gift if the giver is still married to someone else at the time.

A family law attorney often resolves matters involving divorce or custody issues. However, they can also help the fiancé get the ring back. Ideally, the return of the ring will not take litigation, but sometimes court cannot be avoided.

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