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It may surprise you to know that around Valentine’s Day, we generally see an increase in both engagements and divorce filings. Engagement rings, which may be given or returned during this trying season, are at the center of this peculiar convergence.
An engagement ring – and, for that matter, a wedding band – is frequently an item whose sentimental value far outweighs its monetary value. However, when both couples are trying to partition their communal property during a divorce, sentimental value might be tossed out the window.
A wedding or engagement ring’s true value might be, and frequently is, considerable enough to cause concern. A piece of jewelry of any kind can be a high-value possession, but when it comes to acquiring an Earthly emblem of their love and devotion, few individuals go for a discount.
So, what role do rings play in a divorce? Unfortunately for ring-givers wanting to recoup their losses, courts often regard engagement and wedding bands as separate property. In legal terms, they are “gift[s] in contemplation of marriage” (California Civil Code Section 1590) or “conditional gifts.” According to the argument, because the ring was given to someone prior to marriage and as a condition of marriage, it counts as their distinct property if the marriage was consummated.
When the Ring Has Been Passed Down Through the Generations
People sometimes propose to their loved ones with a ring that once belonged to a family member – such as a mother, grandmother, or even someone older. When an engagement or wedding ring is a family treasure, the courts take a different approach to determining who owns it following a divorce.
It’s not a guarantee, but a ring-giver who used a family treasure to propose or marry someone else has the right to request that it be returned. This is true regardless of whether the marriage was completed or if the ring-giver was the one who called off the engagement.
After the Love is Gone
If an engagement falls apart, the law is more likely to allow the ring-giver to return the ring. This is because the ring was a conditional gift, with marriage as the condition. The ring can be returned if the marriage does not take place.
Regardless, the court will consider who called off the engagement. Because the ring was given on the condition that the recipient marry before the ring-giver called the wedding off, it’s possible that the receiver was expected to marry before the ring-giver called the wedding off. Because the ring-giver is the one who broke the marriage contract, the ring’s recipient may decide to keep it.
How to Avoid Disputes Over Engagement Rings During Divorce
When parties battle about who gets which rings back and whether or not they’re family treasures, a lot of time can be lost during divorce processes. Arguments about individual items like these can bog down the process and make it take far longer than it should.
The most effective approach for couples to avoid squabbling over ownership of a ring during divorce is to prevent it from happening in the first place. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can be used to settle ownership.
Do You Require Legal Counsel?
Spodek Law Group can help you whether you’re going through a divorce and need to resolve a property distribution issue, or if you want to avoid one with a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Our divorce attorneys are expert advocates for our clients, who look to us for guidance at tough times.
Schedule a meeting with us if you’d like to learn more about what we can do for you. You can discuss your position and concerns with one of our attorneys, who will be able to suggest ways in which Spodek Law Group can assist you.
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