Who Gets the Engagement Ring?

July 5th, 2007 by admin

Engagement Ring breakupThis article is to help clear up matters regarding what to do with an engagement ring if the wedding is broken off.  Although etiquette rules that an engagement ring should be given back when a wedding is called off regardless of who broke the engagement, the legal system says something else.

Some of the circumstances that determine if an engagement ring has to be returned include the state you live in, how you received the engagement ring, and who broke the engagement. (We are not including if you want to be evil or spiteful in this article)

Conditional Gift States

Many courts look at an engagement ring as a conditional gift that is given in contemplation of marriage. If there is no marriage, then the engagement ring needs to be returned.

New Jersey
New Mexico
New York

The courts also have held in these states that the reasoning for no-fault divorces holds for no-fault broken engagements so an engagement ring should always be returned regardless of who decided to call off the engagement.

Implied Conditional States

In these locales, if the guy breaks the engagement, he won’t get the ring back. If he doesn’t break the engagement, he can request its return.


Unconditional Gift States

Other courts have held the belief that an engagement ring is an unconditional gift and so it doesn’t need to be given back.


Family Heirloom Engagement Rings

If you are considering giving a family heirloom engagement ring, legal experts recommend having a prenuptial agreement that lists who will keep the engagement ring in the event of a break up.

Supreme Court’s findings

Just a few years ago, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania stuck steadfastly to the no-fault reasoning and decreed that the donor should always get the engagement ring back even if the engagement is broken off, regardless of who broke it off or why. Lindh v. Surman, 742 A.2d 643 (Pa. 1999). Iowa, Kansas, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Wisconsin have the same rule.


It keeps life simple if an engagement ring is returned to the man on condition of break up, regardless of fault.  If the woman keeps the ring it will only bring back bad memories when she sees it.  If she just throws it away it is an attempt to bring some type fo revenge to the man who originally bought it for her. If you have to return it girls, give the ring back and move on to finding the right guy and forget about the current one.

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