About 10% of engagements do not end in marriage. That’s a tough time for everyone.
With engagement rings valued at around $5,000 on average these days, the ring becomes as much an asset as it is a symbolic token of commitment.
Believe it or not, the problem of who owns the ring in a broken engagement comes up so often that the California Legislature has actually come up with a solution to this problem. I’m going to use a Sex and the City hypothetical to explain…
Do you remember the episode of Sex and the City when Aidan breaks up with Carrie? And insists that she keep the engagement ring? She ultimately gives it back. I don’t think she consulted Miranda before doing so. But had she… what would Miranda have said? Keep it? Return it?
We here in California have our very own code section which specifically addresses the Carrie-Aidan-engagement ring quandary.
That section provides: “Where either party to a contemplated marriage in this State makes a gift of money or property to the other on the basis or assumption that the marriage will take place, in the event that the donee (Carrie) refuses to enter into the marriage as contemplated or that it is given up by mutual consent, the donor (Aidan) may recover such gift or such part of its value as may, under all of the circumstances of the case, be found by a court or jury to be just.” Civ. Code § 1590. Characters added.
In English, this means that if Carrie broke up with Aidan or if neither wanted to get hitched, Carrie would have to give the ring back. This is what is referred to as a conditional gift. The gift was conditioned upon Aidan and Carrie actually getting married. However, the language regarding “all the circumstances” and “just” may open the door to some litigation. Also, have you and an ex ever had completely different perspectives as to who broke off a relationship? They say they cut it off. You say you did? A broken engagement can lead to all kinds of re-written history…
As in most cases, this legal issue will depend upon the facts. If you find yourself in a situation where you think you deserve the ring and the other party does not (or vice versa), it’s just best to at least consult with an attorney. Most will consult with you for a good 15 minutes en gratis or for a small fee. Check out Avvo.com – one of my favorite ways to screen attorneys.
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A big ol’ thank you to Ms. Laura Ford of Laura Ford Photography. She was our wedding photographer and now I consider her a friend. She’s just fabulous. Her work as featured in this post and elsewhere speaks for itself, but I can assure you that she is equally lovely in personality too!
Check her out here: http://www.laurafordweddingphotographer.com; and https://www.facebook.com/LauraFord.Photographer.
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