When “I Do” Becomes “I Don’t,” Who Gets The Ring?

Posted on March 18th, 2020 in Divorce

Breaking up is hard to do. Whether you and your partner have called off the engagement or you and your spouse are divorcing, there are a lot of emotions at play and a lot of financial questions you may have. One of which being, who gets the ring or rings in the breakup? Pennsylvania has methods to determine what happens to your rings after the split. 

If the Engagement is Called Off

Since the couple is calling off a non-marital relationship, there is no marital property at this point. However, the issue at hand is whether the ring was bought solely by one party or jointly split. 

If you and your partner split the cost of the engagement ring, then each party is entitled to half the cost. If you purchased your own ring, then you own it outright.

Traditionally speaking, one person gives the other an engagement ring, and under Pennsylvania law, that does not mean the ring is automatically the property of the recipient. Instead, the ring is considered a conditional gift, which means that if the engagement is broken off, the gift’s condition has not been met.

So, if you break off the engagement, the ring should go back to your partner who purchased it. However, breakups are complicated, so you may want to consult with an attorney about the circumstances surrounding the breakup.

Remember fault is not a factor when it comes to calling off engagements: if you bought the ring, you will most likely get it back. 

Who gets the rings back in a divorce then?

In Pennsylvania, property acquired during the marriage by either spouse is considered “marital property” and is divided upon divorce in the equitable distribution model

However, wedding rings are complicated. Under 23 Pa.C.S. § 3501(a)(3), “marital property does not include:(3) Property acquired by gift, except between spouses, bequest, devise or descent or property acquired in exchange for such property.”

This means that gifts given between spouses are also subject to division during the divorce. But wedding rings are different, as each person receives one. They are typically purchased before the marriage, so it’s not really marital property. So, the rings should be returned back to those who purchased each one. Of course, if purchased jointly, then they are also divided.

While this is the legal ruling, courts will often go against the book and allow each party to keep their rings. Sometimes, if only one party wants to keep the ring, they may give up something else of value. For example, if the husband gave the wife a family heirloom, he very well may want it back. To do so, the wife may decide to give up her share of the ring, in exchange for keeping something else.

Breaking up is hard. But dividing your assets doesn’t have to be.

Northeastern Pennsylvania Marital Assets Division Lawyer

At Kalinoski Law Offices P.C. in Scranton, we adopt a solutions-oriented approach to property division. Our Scranton property division attorney has an in-depth understanding of valuation methods in order to properly value complex holdings.

Our firm will protect your interests and act as your advocate on all asset division matters as part of a divorce action or any other family law situation. Call (570) 207-4000 or use our contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.

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