Engagement Rings – Mine, yours, the devil’s?

Engagement Rings – Mine, yours, the devil’s?

Engagement rings are in the news this week.  The Huffington Post reports on one gentleman’s attempt to sell a used ring.  That angry seller got his ring back – but is that always the case?

It depends.  Are the parties disagreeing about the ring before the marriage takes place or after the parties have married and are now getting divorced.

Before Marriage

If one person gives a ring to his intended betrothed (and women can give rings to men; and with same sex marriages men can give to men and women to women), and the wedding is called off, there is a law for that.  California Civil Code Section 1950 says that if the recipient calls off the wedding, the ring giver can get it back.

After Marriage

In dissolution (divorce) proceedings, the parties divide their community property, and each party keeps his own separate property.  A ring, received as a gift before marriage (and thus before there is a community), is likely to be considered the recipient’s separate property, because it was received prior to the date of marriage.  See Fam. Code Section 770(a)(1).  That is not to say the parties cannot negotiate for a different outcome.

If you have questions about rings or pre- or post- nuptial agreements or the division of community property, be sure to speak to a qualified family law attorney.