Breaking up is hard to do. Figuring out who keeps the engagement ring may be harder. Like many areas within the law, the answer is “it depends.”
At Lyons & Associates, we specialize in all aspects of matrimonial and family law, and ownership of an engagement ring is just one of many questions that people ask us.
In general, if the parties breakup before the marriage ceremony takes place, then the law states that the engagement ring should be returned to the person who originally gave it. And it does not matter which party breaks off the engagement. An engagement ring is a gift “conditioned upon marriage. When the promise of marriage [i]s not kept, regardless of fault, the condition [i]s not fulfilled and the ring must be returned[.]” Aronow v. Silver, 223 N.J. Super. 344, 350 (1987).
Conversely, the case of Aranow also can be read to hold that, once the actual marriage ceremony does take place, then there is no requirement to return the ring, and the ring becomes the property of the person to whom it was given.
All of that said, there may be some exceptions to those general rules if the engagement ring or the stone is a family heirloom or has some other type of sentimentality attached to it.
If you have a question as to what happens to an engagement ring upon a breakup, or any other question about family law, call the experienced family law attorneys at Lyons & Associates at 908-575-9777 or contact us online.
Written By: Theresa A. Lyons, Esq.