Who Gets the Engagement Ring?

Feb 19, 2015

We are often asked who gets the engagement ring after a couple suffers a break-up.  The answer depends upon many factors:

  1. Was the ring offered in contemplation of marriage?
  2. Was there an acceptance to the offer?
  3. Was the marriage contract completed?
  4. If the marriage contract was broken, who broke it off?

Each of these questions must be carefully examined before determining who gets the ring.  But another, possibly even more important question must be asked before bringing a lawyer into resolve this issue …. How much was the ring worth?  If the parties were not married, and the ring was of less value than what you would pay the lawyer to get it back, perhaps the best route to consider is small claims court, provided you meet the statutory limits.

If the parties were married, the issue cannot be resolved through small claims, and must be resolved through the annulment or divorce process.  Generally, the divorce courts will award the engagement ring to the wife if the marriage contract was completed.   Schultz v. Duitz, 253 Ky. 135, 69 S.W.2d 27, (Ky 1934).

You may need to examine the financing of the ring.  If it was purchased on credit, and a substantial portion of the ring was paid for after the marriage, it may be a marital asset, despite the fact that it was given in contemplation of marriage.  If it was soldered together with the wedding band, the Court may need to address how much of the ring is a marital asset and how much is the pre-marital gift in contemplation of marriage.  It is best to discuss these issues with your attorney as soon as possible so that you can collect all the relevant documentation and prepare for all issues arising from the ring.