Carlsbad Family Law Attorneys

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

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?

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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.

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.

© 2016 Millionairium and Griffith, Young & Lass. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Millionairium and Griffith, Young & Lass are credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.

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  • John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS
  • Catie E. Young, Esq., CFLS
  • Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS
  • Shirin Asgari, Esq.
  • Eric Cowdery, Esq.
  • Jeffrey Wittliff, Esq.
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  • John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS

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    John Griffith has practiced exclusively in the area of family law since 2009. John is a Certified Family Law Specialist certified as an expert in the area of family law by the California Board of Legal Specialization. Prior to opening Griffith, Young & Lass, he worked as the managing partner of one of the largest family law firms in North County San Diego.
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    Catie E. Young excels in child custody cases and move-away trials. She has a unique approach to child custody cases and clients of Griffith, Young & Lass tend to gravitate toward her in these cases. Since joining the firm, she has continuously brought her zeal and compassion to representing clients in child custody and domestic violence cases, and in December 2011, she became a partner at Griffith, Young & Lass.
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  • Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS

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    Amy Lass, a certified family law specialist, was born in New York and raised in San Diego, California. Amy graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2003 with a B.S. in Economics with a concentration in Enterprise Accounting. Amy went on to earn her law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law and graduated cum laude in 2006.
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  • Shirin Asgari, Esq. Shirin Asgari, Esq.

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    Attorney Shirin Asgari has a broad spectrum of legal experience and has handled matters in family law, criminal law, business law, and national security law. Currently, she focuses on family law matters and is a strong advocate for the rights of her clients. She dedicates time and attention to the needs of each client and the unique circumstances their case presents.
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  • Eric Cowdery, Esq. Eric Cowdery, Esq.

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    Eric Cowdery earned his bachelor’s and Master’s degrees before earning his JD from Golden Gate University as part of the Honors Lawyering Program. He was admitted to the California Bar Association in 2013 and has been working diligently in the field ever since. Taking a personalized approach to each case, Eric Cowdery is committed to working with clients to help them through the often confusing and complex legal process of divorce.

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  • Jeffrey Wittliff, Esq. Jeffrey Wittliff, Esq.

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    Jeffrey Wittliff is extremely attentive to his cases and believes in thorough preparation and the value of regular client communication. Behind the scenes, he has an extensive background in research related to all areas of family law, propounding discovery when necessary, and negotiation to settle cases with opposing parties.
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  • Joshua Yee, Esq. Joshua Yee, Esq.

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    Attorney Joshua Yeereceived his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, from the University of California, San Diego. Joshua went on to receive his Juris Doctor degree from University of San Francisco. His experience working with a local Certified Family Law Specialist solidified his desire to become a family law attorney. Since becoming an attorney, Josh has exclusively practiced in family law.
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  • Shaudi Malekzadeh, Esq. Shaudi Malekzadeh, Esq.

    Associate

    Shaudi Malekzadeh is a Carlsbad family law attorney at Griffith, Young & Lass, advocating for the rights and interests of Southern California families in a variety of family law cases, such as child custody, alimony, spousal support, and the division of community property. She is committed to delivering effective legal representation to our clients, aggressively advocating for their legal rights, and offering compassionate legal advice.
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