Who Gets the Engagement Ring in a Divorce?
Engagement rings are often one of the most expensive gifts someone can give—and when a marriage ends, it’s natural that the purchaser might want to get it back. In most states, including New York, engagement rings are considered a “conditional gift.”
Do you have to give an engagement ring back to the purchaser? Here’s an overview of conditional gifts and what to expect during your divorce.
What is a conditional gift?
Conditional gifts are those given on the assumption the recipient will fulfill a future condition. With engagement rings, the condition is marriage. Therefore, the ring isn’t really “yours” until the marriage occurs, thus fulfilling the condition.
This is similar to someone establishing a trust fund for a child, which they cannot receive until they reach a certain age. Once they fulfill that condition, the gift is finally, legally theirs—even if they knew it was meant for them all along.
There are, however, exceptions. For example, if the recipient paid for the ring, or it was their family heirloom, they are entitled to keep the ring. If the ring was given on a holiday (such as birthday or Christmas), it could be considered a holiday gift instead. Finally, if the engagement ring was given when the giver was still married, the recipient can argue the gift wasn’t actually conditional on marriage.
Conditional gifts, engagement rings and divorce
New York treats engagement rings as conditional gifts. Once the marriage occurs, the engagement ring belongs to the recipient. If you’re considering divorce, the condition of engagement has been fulfilled, and it belongs to the recipient.
However, you may still wish to address this in your mediation, especially if the ring is a family heirloom. Your mediator can help you both come to an equitable solution.
For more information about conditional gifts and divorce, reach out to the experienced Long Island divorce mediators at Solutions Divorce Mediation today.