Any gifts you gave to your spouse are not recoverable in a divorce. They are considered separate not marital property, so they are not subject to equitable property division. If you have questions about how particular gifts and other assets are divided in a divorce, or how to protect your financial interests, you’ll probably want to speak with a lawyer directly.

How Gifts and Other Property are Handled in a Divorce

When a couple divorces, all community property is subject to asset division. Anything you purchased together or with marital funds during your marriage is joint property and will be distributed equitably in your divorce settlement.

Conversely, any separate property each party owns will not be subject to equitable distribution and will be theirs to keep. Separate property includes property you owned prior to marriage, inheritances, items you purchased with your separate inheritance funds, and gifts.

All presents made solely to your spouse – whether from you, a friend or family member – are hers/his to keep.

  • A wedding ring
  • An engagement ring
  • A car
  • Jewelry
  • Clothing
  • Sporting equipment
  • Technology like cell phones or computers


You may be anxious to recover expensive items you gave your spouse, perhaps to sell so that you can invest in your new future. However, financial dealings like this are simply not part of the merging of assets that is the basis of marriage in the eyes of the law.

When Property Ownership Gets Muddled

While the law is clear that gifts are separate property and exempt from equitable distribution, there are circumstances that can confuse matters. For example, if you purchased something for your spouse with shared finances, the item may be considered martial.

Also, some gifts may be considered “gifts to the marital property.”  If, for instance, you used your separate funds for a down payment on the marital home, it might be considered a gift to the marital property. There are also other times when separate property can be transmuted into marital property, further muddling matters.

To ensure your settlement agreement is fair, you’ll want to have an attorney help you with these things.

  • Property inventory
  • Review the history of questionable gifts and assets
  • Distinguish between separate and marital property

When You Are Ready to Begin the Divorce Process

You are also welcome to call the office and schedule a consult with family law attorney Molly B. Kenny. She can answer any questions you may have about divorce and how collectibles are dispersed in the settlement. Call today at 425-460-0550 to schedule a meeting.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington
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