You’re splitting up – who keeps the engagement ring?

So it wasn’t “until death do us part” after all, but there’s still that dazzling engagement ring. He wants it back; she wants to keep it. Who wins?

As with many things in the law, it depends on the facts, and it also depends on the state.

In some states, such as California, accepting an engagement ring is usually viewed as a promise to marry someone. Once a woman has said “I do,” the promise has been fulfilled and it’s hers to keep, even if the couple later get divorced.

On the other hand, if the bride calls off the wedding before it happens, she hasn’t satisfied her end of the bargain, and she would be expected to give the ring back.

Other states focus on who’s at fault. For example, if a bride backs out of a wedding because she discovers her fiancé was unfaithful during their engagement, she might get to keep the ring.

Still other states consider an engagement ring to be a simple gift, so it becomes the property of the bride-to-be once she says “yes,” regardless of what happens next.

But there are always exceptions. For instance, suppose the groom gave the bride his great-grandmother’s engagement ring, which had been passed down through the family. In some states, the ring would be considered a family heirloom, which was given to the bride only on condition of marriage. So if the marriage is called off, or the couple get divorced, she’d be expected to return it.

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