Who Should Keep The Engagement Ring?

You have spent a lot of money on an engagement ring but it wasn’t meant to be and the weddings off so who should keep the engagement ring? Can you get an engagement ring back after you’ve proposed? Who legally owns the engagement ring? This short guide sheds some light on this issue and helps answer some of the more tricky aspects to a relationship breakdown.

Noel Coward is quoted as having said:

“I’ve sometimes thought of marrying, and then I’ve thought again”

It is unfortunately the case that some people experience broken engagements and, for whatever reason, do not ever make it down the aisle for their big day. Instead, the relationship ends and their assets have to be divided between them.  Whilst arguments can ensue over savings, the house, etc, perhaps the most hotly contested issue is who should keep the engagement ring.

Both parties may feel that they, morally, have the right to the engagement ring for a variety of reasons. For example:

If Susan breaks the engagement to John, Susan may feel morally obliged to give the ring back. Conversely, if John breaks the engagement, he may feel morally obliged to let Susan keep the ring.

However, when both parties are conflicted about who should keep the engagement ring many people turn to the UK law in order to settle the dispute. Finding out who legally owns the engagement ring is pretty straight forward compared to the moral debate. The Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1970 states that:

“The gift of an engagement ring shall be presumed to be an absolute gift; this presumption may be rebutted by proving that the ring was given on the condition, express or implied, that it should be returned if the marriage did not take place for any reason.”

Basically, although it can seem unfair, this means that unless there was an agreement to return the engagement ring if the wedding was cancelled then the recipient is under no obligation to return the ring.

If however, there was a condition (expressed or implied) that the ring would be returned if the engagement was broken off, the recipient would have to give the ring back. For example, the courts will generally say there was an implied intention that the ring would be returned if it was a family heirloom or had particular sentimental value. Although, this would have to be proven.

Who Should Keep The Engagement Ring Upon Divorce?

This is not just the case for engaged couples but also for couples that are getting divorced. The same general rule applies that the engagement ring was an absolute gift and should therefore be kept by the receiver unless there was a condition to the giving of the ring.

If there are no prenuptial agreements and you are not able to resolve financial arrangements upon divorce it is possible to ask the court to adjudicate on the issue. Although given the high costs of litigation this should always be the last resort.

If you need advice on family matters, please contact us or call 0800 024 1976 and a member of our Divorce Solicitors will be happy to discuss your circumstances in more detail and give you information about the services Nelsons can provide.