September 3, 2020

Who keeps the engagement ring?

Jay decides to ask his long-time sweetheart Sally to marry him. He goes to the local jeweler, spends a large sum of money on an extravagant and beautiful engagement ring. He proposes, Sally happily says yes, and the two start planning a fairy-tale wedding. However, two months away from the big day, Sally drops a bombshell on Jay – she’s been having an affair with her neighbor.

One question we receive in situations like this: who keeps that lavish engagement ring that Jay spent so much money on? Does Jay have the right to ask for it back? Does Sally have to give it back to him? Who technically owns it? In this instance, the ring is what is designated to be a “conditional gift.” There are no specific laws that pertain to these types of gifts, however there are several case decisions that are relied upon as precedents. The first was a decision in 1979 which involved an interest in purchased real estate. While a ring is slightly different from real estate, this same decision has applied to engagement rings.
Essentially, what both the trial and Supreme Court in Colorado ruled is that engagement gifts are conditioned upon marriage. Engagement rings are unquestionably the most common type of gift that is marriage-contingent, so in many cases this case has been applied as well.
Colorado is a no-fault state in divorce cases, but that does not apply when breaking an engagement. In these instances, conduct or actions can and will be considered by the court when making a ruling on possessions. In this instance, if Jay chooses to break off the engagement on her own accord, for whatever reason, he is still entitled to ask for his ring back due to misconduct by Sally.
There are two ways that Sally could keep the ring. Had the affair never happened, and Jay chose to break the engagement off for his own reasons, then Sally could keep the ring because Jay had rendered it impossible for Sally to fulfill her promise of getting married. Likewise, had Sally broken the engagement as a result of Jay having the affair, the fault for the break-off then belongs to Jay.

All of this then goes out the window once the couple ties the knot. Had Sally and Jay completed their wedding before news of the affair broke, the ring would be Sally’s to keep, as she had completed the conditions of the gift.

If you need assistance with a family law issue, including possession of valuable property during a divorce, call a skilled Denver family attorney to review your options. Attorneys Sean Peek and Ricardo Vasquez of Peek Vasquez, LLC (former Peek Family Law, LLC), have extensive experience helping Colorado residents navigate through the strenuous path of a family law issue, and have developed a proven technique for providing compassionate, caring counsel with aggressive and impactful litigation.

Call Peek Vasquez, LLC (former Peek Family Law, LLC) today at (303) 495-5757 to schedule your initial consultation for all of your family law needs!