The Wedding is Off! Who Gets the Engagement Ring?

The engagement is off, wedding plans canceled; the guests have been told to redo their travel plans. In the wake of such an abrupt end to what may have been a long-standing relationship, there will undoubtedly be hurt feelings and perhaps damaged property. One question usually shoots to the top of a list of question on the minds of grooms: who gets the ring? The answer to that often-debated topic depends largely on the state the couple is living in at the time the engagement ends. Our New Jersey family law attorneys break down the law as it stands here for all those trying to get their diamond ring back, and having little success. 

An Engagement Ring is a Conditional Gift

In New Jersey, a case brought before the NJ Superior Court in 1987 (Aronow v. Silver) sets the precedent for what an engagement ring represents when a couple decides not to marry. The judge in that case ruled that an engagement ring serves as a “conditional gift,” meaning that the ownership of that item is conditional on the two parties actually getting married. The ring is a symbol that the marriage will take place. No marriage? The ring must return to the giver.

No Fault Laws in New Jersey  

When an indiscretion, including infidelity, leads to a broken engagement, the wronged party may be quick to point to their fiancé’s conduct as a reason for keeping (or selling) the engagement ring.  Not so fast. In New Jersey, we have what’s called ‘no fault’ divorce, meaning the court doesn’t consider who wronged whom in making determinations concerning asset ownership. No justification is necessary and broken engagements fall under the statutes. Attempting to damage the giver’s property or sell it off to prevent them from claiming it could carry additional legal consequences. Put a lid on the need for vengeance in the name of a clean criminal record or to prevent a summary judgment against you.

Forcing Their Hand

Unfortunately, a jilted former partner may not give back the engagement ring voluntarily. If they refuse, filing a lawsuit against them may be necessary to obtain a judgment to force them to return the property.

Hire Knowledgeable NJ Divorce Attorneys to Protect Your Assets

Trying to affect an amicable separation of assets in a broken engagement or dissolution of marriage can be difficult for both emotionally invested parties. You’re hurt, and not thinking with a clear mind. It’s okay to admit your decision making is compromised by the situation, that’s why we’re here. Our New Jersey divorce lawyers can assist you in the asset distribution process by drawing up a plan that the judge presiding over the case can review and approve. The process will go much smoother than trying to do it in your own, and you stand a much better chance of retaining your own property. If you’ve recently been involved in a broken engagement, or believe your marriage or civil union is at an end, call our firm today to discuss your rights.

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