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What happens to the ring in a broken engagement?

Friends may say that it is for the best, and they are right. However, there may be emotional pain and confusion involved in calling off an engagement. From a financial standpoint, the severed relationship could pose problems as well, particularly if there is an expensive engagement ring involved.

A high profile example made the news recently. A former groom asked that his fiancée return a 4-karat engagement ring worth about $100,000, which he says was a conditional gift. If she returned the ring, he said she could remain in their large house while finishing her art history dissertation. She later announced her intention to keep it. The former groom is currently paying on personal loans and credit card loans on the ring.

Engagement ring as a conditional gift

This is just the most recent version of countless other engagements that have been called off. Conditional gifts are based on fulfillment of a future act: If the act does not happen, the giver is awarded possession of the ring. The woman, for her part, could claim that his proposal was not a conditional one. However, courts generally look at these circumstances as no-fault. In Arizona, this would often mean returning the ring.

Determining the rightful owner

There are two sides to every story, and these can diverge greatly in the middle of a messy break-up. Some would argue that they would have had to marry if she was to legally keep that conditional gift. Case law results have also differed depending on which party called off the engagement and the marriage.

An experienced Board-Certified Family Law expert attorney can be helpful in navigating legal and financial issues involved with an engagement or marriage. Perhaps even resolving the ownership of a ring or some other dispute before it ever ends up in court.

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