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Who Gets to Keep the Engagement Ring?

When a couple gets engaged, they often spend time picking out the perfect engagement ring. It is a symbol of their love and commitment to each other. But what happens when that relationship ends? Who keeps the engagement ring? Under California law, the answer is not as clear-cut as you might think. In this blog post, we will discuss who owns an engagement ring after a divorce or breakup and what factors the court will consider in making its decision.

Engagement rings are often expensive, and their value can be sentimental as well as monetary. When a couple gets engaged, they usually intend to get married. But sometimes, things don't work out, and the engagement is broken off. Who keeps the ring then?

If The Relationship is Broken Off

In California, the answer is governed by Civil Code 1590, which states that engagement rings or any other money or property given with the assumption that a marriage will occur are considered "conditional gifts." If the engagement is broken off — whether one-sided or mutual — the ring must be returned to the giver.

This statute also protects the engagement ring if the couple does marry and divorces later. As the ring was a gift given before the marriage, the original gift-giver or donor of the ring will retain ownership following the divorce.

Exceptions to the Rule

The only exceptions to this rule are if there was a written agreement between the couple that established an owner in the case of divorce or if the ring is gifted to the original recipient during or following the divorce.

The couple can secure ring ownership by creating a contract during the marriage that states the ownership of the ring in the case of divorce, effectively gifting the ring to one party. If during your divorce, the gifter of the ring decides they do not want the gift back, they can legally gift the ring to the original recipient and relinquish ownership of the engagement ring.

If you and your significant other are thinking about getting engaged, you may want to have a conversation with your future spouse about what would happen to the ring if the engagement is broken off.

Marina Del Rey Divorce Attorney

Of course, every situation is different, and the court will always consider the unique circumstances of each case. If you have questions about engagement rings and divorce or any other family law matter, we encourage you to speak with our experienced attorney, who can help you understand your rights and options.

Are you unsure of what to do with your engagement ring? Schedule a consultation with our Marina Del Rey divorce attorney by calling (310) 736-2063 or contact us online to learn more about how we can guide you through the dissolution of your marriage.