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Break-ups: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

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Arguing in Court over an engagement ring must be the furthest thing from your mind when walking into a fancy jewelry store to pick out the perfect ring for your bride to be, sadly many relationships end before the bride can even walk down the aisle. So, what happens when an engaged couple finally decides, “the wedding is off!” who gets to keep the ring?!

Legally a gift is defined as the unconditional transfer of property. It is when the ownership of something is voluntarily passed over to another person. In order for a gift to be valid there must be the following: (1) Intent to give the gift, (2) Delivery of the gift either physical, constructive, or symbolic delivery, and (3) Acceptance of the gift.

A traditional principle of New York law has been that an engagement ring is property of the male donor when an engagement is terminated, (see 11 N.Y. Prac. New York Law of Domestic Relations § 4.4). This is because legally an engagement ring is considered a conditional gift. This means that the ring is a condition upon marriage between the parties and if the marriage does not occur then the ring reverts back to the original owner. This is the rule stated in DeFina v. Scott, where the Court stated that an engagement ring is considered a conditional gift upon marriage unless there were other than a contemplated marriage for why the gift was given, such as part of a birthday or holiday celebration, in that case the ring may not be subject to return.

If you are arguing over who gets to keep the ring and there is a genuine dispute as to the circumstances under which the ring was given, a trial may be necessary to determine the facts. So if you’re thinking of popping the question on Valentine’s Day, as romantic as that sounds, you may want to reconsider.

If you are engaged and looking to create a Prenuptial Agreement or want to call of your engagement, Long Island Attorney Jay D. Raxenberg can help!

PreferencesArguing in Court over an engagement ring must be the furthest thing from your mind when walking into a fancy jewelry store to pick out the perfect ring for your bride to be, sadly many relationships end before the bride can even walk down the aisle. So, what happens when an engaged couple finally decides, “the wedding is off!” who gets to keep the ring?!

Arguing in Court over an engagement ring must be the furthest thing from your mind when walking into a fancy jewelry store to ick out the perfect ring for your bride to be, sadly many relationships end before the bride can even walk down the aisle. So, what happens when an engaged couple finally decides, “the wedding is off!” who gets to keep the ring?!

Legally a gift is defined as the unconditional transfer of property. It is when the ownership of something is voluntarily passed over to another person. In order for a gift to be valid there must be the following:

(1) Intent to give the gift,

(2) Delivery of the gift either physical, constructive, or symbolic delivery, and

(3) Acceptance of the gift.

A traditional principle of New York law has been that an engagement ring is property of the male donor when an engagement is terminated, (see 11 N.Y. Prac. New York Law of Domestic Relations § 4.4). This is because legally an engagement ring is considered a conditional gift. This means that the ring is a condition upon marriage between the parties and if the marriage does not occur then the ring reverts back to the original owner. This is the rule stated in DeFina v. Scott, where the Court stated that an engagement ring is considered a conditional gift upon marriage unless there were other than a contemplated marriage for why the gift was given, such as part of a birthday or holiday celebration, in that case the ring may not be subject to return.

If you are arguing over who gets to keep the ring and there is a genuine dispute as to the circumstances under which the ring was given, a trial may be necessary to determine the facts. So if you’re thinking of popping the question on Valentine’s Day, as romantic as that sounds, you may want to reconsider.

If you are engaged and looking to create a Prenuptial Agreement or want to call of your engagement, Long Island Attorney Jay D. Raxenberg can help!

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