Engagement Rings & Wedding Rings: What Happens After a Divorce or Broken Engagement?

Taking off the wedding ringThe wedding ring and engagement ring are often important pieces of property in a marriage–and for more than one reason. The rings represent a promise of a lifetime of fidelity and love and symbolize the relationship itself. At the same time, today’s engagement rings and wedding rings are often expensive items that could be important assets when it comes to property division and divorce settlement.

Determining The Rightful Owner of the Wedding Rings

In some cases, a man may not want the engagement or wedding ring back. And in other cases, the woman may wish to give back the rings to the gift giver. But still other couples may fight over who is the rightful owner of the rings in the case of a divorce or breakup.

Courts across the country have come to different decisions when it comes to jewelry and divorces–and many of these decisions depend upon the unique aspects of the individual case at hand. However, many court decisions depend on whether a couple breaks up before or after the marriage:

  • In the case of a divorce: Many judges see the engagement ring and wedding ring as a personal gift given from one person to another. Once given, the gift can’t be recovered by the person who gave the gift. There may be exceptions, such as if a wedding ring or engagement ring was purchased after the wedding or if the ring was purchased by shared funds earned by the couple.
     
  • In the case of a broken engagement: What happens to an engagement ring when an engagement is broken off can be a very different matter. Some states and judges have ruled that an engagement ring is a conditional gift: it is an item that is bestowed on your fiancée on the condition that she promises to marry you. If the marriage never happens, it is only fair to return the gift. Usually, this is the case no matter who breaks off the engagement or who is responsible for the ruined marriage plans.

In all cases, the judge will look at the individual details of the couple and the giving of the rings before issuing a decision on how the property will be distributed. 

Do You Have Other Assets to Divide?

We have addressed many common issues we see when dividing assets after a divorce in our legal library, blog, and FAQs.

Hire an Experienced Seattle Assest Division Lawyer

Do you need the assistance of a Bellevue asset division attorney as you and your spouse navigate divorce and property division? Call the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny today: 425-460-0550. 

Molly B. Kenny's Bellevue family law office is conveniently located on Lake Bellevue Drive, making it easily accessible to those in the greater Seattle area. Our divorce and child custody lawyers help men and women get the information, guidance, and compassionate representation they need.
Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny