Who Gets the Engagement Ring If the Engagement Is Called off?

With Valentines Day this weekend, many men out there might be thinking that it is finally time to pop the question. In fact, an estimated six million couples get engaged on Valentines Day!

Not to put a damper on such a romantic holiday, but have you ever considered who, legally, has rights to the engagement ring if the engagement is broken off? Here is a little insight…

  • Conditional Gift: Legally, an engagement ring is not just a normal “gift,” an engagement ring is considered a “conditional gift.” A conditional gift brings with it an attached “condition” that must be fulfilled. For an engagement ring, the courts have determined that the attached condition is marriage. Therefore, if the condition is never fulfilled, meaning that the marriage never takes place, the engagement ring is revocable.

  • Fault/No-Fault: The question still remains, does the buyer of the engagement ring automatically have the rights after the engagement is broken off or is the receiver of the ring entitled to it. The answer to that question depends on what state you live in. Some states follow a “fault” based standard, meaning that the courts look specifically who broke off the engagement, and in most circumstances, award the ring to the one not responsible for breaking off the engagement. North Carolina, on the other hand, follows a “no-fault” based standard, meaning that no matter who breaks off the engagement, the engagement ring will be returned to the buyer.

On the bright side, once the “condition is fulfilled,” in other words once the couple is married, the receiver will gain full legal rights to the engagement ring regardless of if or how the marriage ends. Bottom line, if you are in love with the ring, make sure you are in love with the man!

If you have any questions concerning Conditional Gifts or any other related matters, get connected with an attorney at Stiles Law by calling 704-719-2589, we would love to assist you.

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