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When your engagement ends, what do you do with the ring?

In the vast majority of engagements in Connecticut, an engagement ring is given at the time of the proposal. When that relationship breaks down, leading either to the end of the engagement or to a divorce -- if the parties do follow through and get married -- then what happens to that expensive ring?

Rulings have gone both ways on this, but it's worth noting that many cases have ended with the person who was given the ring being allowed to keep it. The court will look at it like any other gift, as long as it was meant to be a gift and it was accepted by the person to whom it was offered.

However, some courts have not looked at engagement rings at traditional gifts, but as conditional gifts. In essence, the ring was offered on the condition that the two would be married. If the person to whom the ring was given then decided not to get married, the condition was broken and the ring had to be returned.

It can be helpful to think of it this way: If the person who proposed held up the ring and the proposal was denied right then -- if she said no on the spot -- then the ring would never change hands. It only became a gift when the offer of marriage was accepted. Courts have ruled that denying that offer, even at a later date, is similar enough to denying it during the proposal that the gift must be returned.

Of course, factors like who asked for the split and why the two are breaking the engagement or getting divorced must also be considered, so each case is usually determined on its own, and it's important to know what precedents have been set.

Source: FindLaw, "What Happens to the Engagement Ring in a Broken Engagement?," accessed Sep. 24, 2015

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