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Who Gets the Ring if the Engagement is Called Off in the State of California?
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Who Gets the Ring if the Engagement is Called Off in the State of California?

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2017 | Divorce

Carlsbad, CA – When you’ve called off your engagement in the state of California, you may find yourself arguing with your ex-fiancé about possession of the ring. That’s not surprising. With the average engagement ring costing $5,200, who gets the ring is bound to be an important discussion. So, who gets to keep it? The one who bought or the receiver?

Engagement Rings in Other States

Some states see the engagement rings as conditional gifts. That is, they are gifts given to another in expectation of marriage. If there is no marriage, many states have laws that say that the ring should be returned, regardless of who calls off the engagement.

California sees it differently.

California Family Law and Engagement Rings

The question of engagement ring ownership comes up quite often in California family courtrooms, said family attorney John Griffith of Griffith, Young, and Lass.

“According to California family law, the person who broke off the engagement usually gets to keep the ring,” Griffith said.

Ready to consult a divorce attorney? Call 858-951-1526 or fill out an online contact form to set up a consultation with Griffith, Young & Lass.

Is Your Engagement Called Off? Are You Considering a Separation?

Under California family law Civil Code 1590, “[G]ifts made in contemplation of marriage are revocable if the marriage doesn’t take place.”

The code further states that the statute is applied to either party and that the ring must be returned if the recipient refuses to marry or the marriage is mutually abandoned.

But what if the person who gifted the ring is the one who called off the engagement?

Does the Purchaser Get to Keep the Ring?

“Unfortunately,” said Griffith, “California family law doesn’t specifically refer to the donor calling off the engagement. It is more written to protect the receiver of the ring from getting dumped before the couple has a chance to make it to the altar.”

Legal case Simonian v Donoian coincides with Griffith’s interpretation of the law when it says, “The clear meaning of the quoted statute is that the donee of an engagement ring is entitled to retain possession thereof when the marriage contract is breached by the donor without any fault on the donee’s part.”

Griffith pointed out that the statute isn’t only referring to engagement rings. The law covers property and other “gifts” that are given in expectation that he or she will soon be married.

The case Shaw v Shaw saw a man awarded property that had been purchased in the name of husband and wife before the couple were married, all because his fiancé failed to obtain a divorce from her previous husband and the engagement was called off.

Griffith says that no two cases are the same and that if ownership of an engagement ring is contested, it is best to seek the advice of an experienced California family lawyer.

To learn more about California family law as it applies to engagement rings, Schedule Your Free Consultation with Griffith, Young, and Lass San Diego divorce attorneys.

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