An engagement is a beautiful way for a couple to show that they are committed to each other before they get married. The engagement usually involves a proposal of marriage and the giving of an engagement ring. This event usually leads to marriage and to many years of happiness together. However, not all engagements end this way. Some are broken off after the premature breakdown of the relationship.
After a broken engagement, the former couple should be able to divide the assets they have relatively easily since they are not subject to marital laws. However, there are often disputes regarding who is the rightful owner of the engagement ring. If you have recently broken off an engagement, the following is what you need to know about the ownership rights of engagement rings.
Courts have a tendency to take a no-fault approach to engagement rings
Engagement rings are given as a gift. But to many they are seen to be a conditional gift; they are given in the faith that a marriage will take place. Therefore, if the engagement is broken off and marriage never takes place, the original intention of the gift-giving no longer stands, and it is expected that the person receiving the engagement ring returns it.
If the recipient of the ring does not return it, the giver may want to go to court. Most states rule that an engagement ring is a conditional gift regardless of fault, meaning that the ring should be returned to the gift giver no matter the reasons for the breakdown of the engagement.
Some other states such as Montana tend to rule that the engagement ring is an unconditional gift, and therefore that it should always remain with the recipient.
If your engagement has recently been broken off, it's important that you understand whether or not you have a right to keep the ring.