When you go through a divorce, one question that will inevitably come up is what happens to the engagement ring. This piece of property is special for its sentimental reasons, monetary value, and for how the legal system views it. While some couples do not spend a lot of money on an engagement ring, many people save up two or three months’ worth of salary to purchase an engagement ring. Additionally, some people give family heirlooms as engagement rings, which have even more sentimental value. For all these reasons, it can be difficult to decide what will happen to the ring in the event of a divorce.
Engagement Rings and the Law
While most gifts given to a partner will be considered the receiver’s to keep should there be a divorce, the law considers engagement rings differently. They are actually seen as a representation of a verbal contract to be married. In this sense, they fall under contract law. These are the rules governing engagement rings and divorce in the state of California:
- If the couple breaks up before the wedding, the receiver gives back the ring
- If the ring is of “reasonable value” in light of the standard of living of the couple it will be considered a gift and awarded to the spouse receiving the gift.
- In the case of a ring that exceeds the reasonable value in light of the economic position of the parties at the time of the marriage, the ring may be considered an investment and subsequently determined to be a community asset in which each party is entitled to one-half of the value. Some couples, especially in a mutual divorce, may sell the ring and split the profits.
- There is also the situation of a family heirloom being passed on to the new bride. Most often this heirloom will be returned to it’s pre-marriage owner.
An experienced divorce attorney can advise you on how this matter should be handled in your situation.
If you are considering divorce and are unsure about what should happen to the ring, or if you have any other concerns, contact the Oceanside divorce attorneys of Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP, at (760) 621-7101 today.