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Family Law

What happens to my engagement ring on divorce?

Engagement ring

What happens to?
The most commonly asked questions from couples separating or divorcing

Monday, October 4, 2021

The general position is that the giving of an engagement ring is presumed to be a gift, meaning it is assumed that the person who receives it should keep it, however there can be exceptions to this rule.

What happens if my wedding doesn’t take place:

If it can be proven that an engagement ring was given on condition (express or implied) that it should be returned if the marriage did not take place, a gifted engagement ring may be able to be reclaimed.

This position will generally apply if the engagement ring is a family heirloom, as there is then an implied condition that it is not given as an absolute gift but is conditional upon the marriage taking place.

This means the engagement ring would have to be returned to the gifting party if the wedding was called off.

What happens if my wedding does takes place:

It is also the general position that an engagement ring should be seen as a gift on divorce. However, if the ring is very expensive ring it could be seen as an asset which the Court will need to give thought to.

The value of the ring can then be considered by the Court as part of a consideration of the overall value of the assets held by the parties so that a decision can be reached as to how the assets should be divided to achieve a fair outcome for the couple.

If the ring is significantly valuable compared to the other assets to be divided, then the more likely it is that the ring may be considered.

How to avoid a dispute?

In order to avoid any potential future disagreements relating to the ownership of an engagement ring a pre (or post) nuptial agreement can be put in place.

A pre or post nuptial agreement would determine who gets to keep their engagement ring on divorce or separation.

Putting in place such a document would be advisable especially if there are certain family heirlooms or sentimental items (such as an engagement ring) which one spouse wants to retain in the event of their relationship breaking down.

Importance of Making a Will

As an engagement ring is considered property it can therefore be left to other people in your will.

It would also be beneficial to make a will to give you the reassurance and peace of mind that if anything should happen to you then your engagement ring can pass to a specific person of your choice and not your spouse.

Contact:

If you would like further advice on this topic or any other family matters then please do not hesitate to contact our specialist and friendly Family Law team on 0191 2328451 or if you prefer, via email familydepartment@samuelphillips.co.uk

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