Engagement Rings and Breakups: Understanding Property Rights
The Joy and Complications of Engagement
Getting engaged is a momentous and happy occasion, symbolized by the exchange of engagement rings. Often, these rings are costly and hold significant sentimental value. However, if the relationship unfortunately ends, the question arises: “Who gets to keep the engagement ring?”
Engagement Ring Ownership Before Marriage
The key factor in determining who keeps the ring is the relationship’s status at the time of the breakup. In many states, fault in the breakup can influence who retains the ring. However, in Minnesota, the situation is different. Here, an engagement ring is a “conditional gift,” with the condition being the marriage itself. If the marriage doesn’t happen, the ring must be returned. Minnesota case law dictates that the recipient of the ring is always responsible for returning it, regardless of who is at fault for the relationship’s breakdown. This aligns with Minnesota’s no-fault divorce approach, applying the same principle to engagement breakups.
Ring Ownership After Marriage
If the couple marries, the situation changes significantly. Once married, the condition of the gift (the marriage) is fulfilled, making the ring the non-marital property of the recipient. This means the recipient doesn’t need to return the ring, and the giver can’t claim its value in property division during a divorce, unless specified in a prenuptial agreement. However, if the couple upgrades the ring to mark special occasions, the increased value due to the upgrade is considered marital property, while the original value remains non-marital.
Legal Advice on Marital and Non-Marital Property
If you have questions about property rights, including engagement rings, in the context of marriage and divorce, professional legal guidance is vital. Contact us for an appointment to review your case and discuss your options regarding marital and non-marital property.