An End to the Debate of "Who Gets the Ring?"

So, you want to know what becomes of your diamond ring in the event of a divorce? Some people will tell you that the engagement ring is a gift, and that women should be able to keep it in the divorce, or even if the engagement falls through entirely. Others will say that the ring is a gift with contingencies—namely that the woman should be able to keep it so long as the marriage is good; if the marriage falters or if the engagement falls through, the woman must give the ring back. The latter belief is more in line with what is deemed “socially acceptable,” but what is socially acceptable is not always what people do. If you are in a situation in which you are not sure what to do with your engagement ring—give it back or keep it—our Dallas property division lawyers at Clark Law Group can share a few guiding principles to follow.

How to Determine the Ownership of the Ring

Determining the ownership of an engagement ring all depends on the circumstances leading up to the dissolution of the relationship. Consider the following situations:

The Marriage Ends in Divorce

In Texas, a wedding ring or engagement ring is only a gift conditional on the acceptance of the engagement, and not of the wedding itself. In other states, the opposite is true: The ring only becomes the personal property of the accepter once the vows are said. That said, if a proposal of marriage is accepted, the ring automatically becomes the separate property of the person who accepted the proposal.

The Ring is a Family Heirloom

If the ring is a family heirloom, and if the marriage did occur (meaning it was not a matter of mere engagement), the matter of ownership becomes a bit more complicated. If the marriage produced children, the ring may be held onto by the former wife so that she can pass the ring down to her children. However, if there were no children, the woman should return the ring, though the law would not obligate her to do so.

The Wedding is Called Off

A called-off wedding poses additional complications in determining ownership of the ring. A wedding-that-was-not does not always mean that the ring goes back to the person who purchased it. For instance, if the person calling off the wedding is the person who purchased the ring, the ring will go to the party who accepted the proposal. This matter was effectively settled in a 2003 case, Curtis v. Anderson, 106 S. W.3d 251, 255, in which Curtis, the giver, called off the wedding but wanted his ring back. The courts decided that because he was the one who called off the wedding, the gift would not be returned.

On the other hand, an engagement ring is sort of like a contract: A person is allowed to keep it only if he or she follows through with his or her end of the deal. If the receiver is the person who calls off the wedding, then he or she must return the ring to the proposer.

Debt for the Ring

No matter what the circumstances are that lead to the dissolution of the engagement/marriage, if a person purchases a ring on credit, that person is solely responsible for the debt. This is the case even if the ring remains in the possession of the person who accepted the marriage proposal.

Speak With a Knowledgeable Dallas Property Division Attorney

Fortunately, many couples are able to settle the matter of ring ownership on their own, as most divorcees do not want a ring given to them by their former partner. That said, if you and your spouse or fiancée cannot settle the matter on your own, use the above guidelines to see what protocol dictates. If you still cannot settle the matter, and if you and your spouse are in the midst of a divorce, reach out to the experienced Dallas property division lawyers at Clark Law Group to ensure that your assets are divided fairly and in accordance with state law. Call our team at (469) 906-2266 to schedule an initial consultation today.

(image courtesy of Wesley Tingey)

Categories: