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Who keeps the ring after a broken engagement?

On Behalf of | May 7, 2020 | Firm News

When you pop the question, you don’t think about the cost or the value of the ring. Instead, you imagine spending the rest of your life with your partner and how you will walk down the aisle with that person.

However, some people never make it down the aisle. And if your engagement is called off, what happens to all the wedding plans you made? What do you tell all the guests? Who keeps the engagement rings?

The pitfalls of an engagement ring

Engagement rings are complex because they are very symbolic of the commitment you had towards your partner. However, they are also very valuable. It makes sense that you need to decide who should keep the ring and what happens to the ring afterward.

The courts usually deem engagement rings as a gift or compensation. If the court deems it as compensation, the receiver may keep the ring and do whatever they want with it. The receiver would have no obligation to return the ring.

However, if the court deems the ring as a gift, there are two options:

  1. Engagement ring as a gift – If the ring meets three criteria to be classified as a gift, the court won’t revoke the gift away from the receiver. However, the court must determine if the giver’s intent was as a gift.
  2. Engagement ring as a conditional gift – The court may see the ring as conditional because it is a gift based on some future event or activity taking place or the wedding in this case. If it is a conditional gift, the court would ask the receiver to return the ring since the conditions weren’t met.

In most states, including Maryland, engagement rings are conditional gifts, so the receiver should anticipate returning the ring at the end of the engagement. However, each couple can make a personal decision surrounding who keeps the rings.

There are many approaches when it comes to dividing rings after a broken engagement. If you want to know what approach is right for you, consider discussing your options with an attorney.