Can I get the ring back?

Photo of attorney Melinda L. Singer

If you and your significant other are calling it quits, you may be wondering if recalling your marriage also means recalling the engagement ring you purchased. Many states and cases have handled this issue differently.

In New Jersey, your chances of getting a wedding ring back may largely depend on whether the marriage happened.

New Jersey law recognizes an engagement ring as a pledge to become married to the person who gifted the ring. Because the ring is a pledge to make a fulfillment (become married), the ring is considered a conditional gift. The ring is granted as a gift when the conditions of the gift (getting married) are met. So, if the engagement is called off before the marriage occurs, the ring must generally be returned to the person who purchased it.

In a recent case, a woman was ordered to return a $40,000 engagement ring after the couple split within a year of their engagement.

If the marriage does occur, the ring becomes the property of the wearer after the marriage. However, the ring is still not considered marital property. Because the ring is explicitly defined as a “gift” it is considered separate property and thus, would not be split as shared property in a divorce.

As straight-forward as this rule may appear, gray areas still lie in situations where a ring is considered a family heirloom or in “marriages” that are annulled for being illegitimate.

If you have further questions about what property you may be entitled to in your divorce, contact a family law attorney for guidance. A lawyer can advise you on whether you may be able to take legal action on property disputes, such as an unreturned engagement ring.

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