When an engagement ends, individuals deal with many things such as canceling appointments with dressmakers, florists and caterers, as well as the question of whether to return the engagement ring. Lawyers in Walker, MN have repeatedly considered the issue and there are several different conclusions.
When Is a Gift Really a Gift?
Most courts treat engagement rings as gifts from the donor to the receiver. For it to be considered a gift, three criteria must be met: the donor must have intended it to be a gift, it must have been delivered and the receiver must have accepted the ring. If a person can prove all three of those elements, courts usually consider the engagement ring to be a gift.
A Conditional Gift
However, most courts consider the engagement ring to be a conditional gift. That means that the gift is not final until the marriage occurs, and if it does not, the donor has the legal right to ask that the ring be returned. This concept is used in other instances, but it’s quite common in cases of broken engagement.
Receivers who wish to keep the ring often argue that the acceptance of the marriage proposal is enough to make the gift final. That way, the ring remains the property of the receiver if the engagement ends. This argument often does not hold up in court. Most courts find that engagement rings have an implied condition and accepting a proposal isn’t enough to finalize the deal. A family lawyer in Walker, MN with Brainerdlaw.com will tell clients that the courts usually do not consider fault for the break-up when deciding who gets to retain the ring.
When Fault Matters and When It Doesn’t
In some judges’ opinions, it is not fair for the donor to automatically reclaim the ring, especially if the donor was the one who chose to end the engagement. These judges believe that it is unfair for a recipient to keep the ring if the engagement ended due to their misbehavior, and in such cases, they typically order the recipient to return it.
Other judges believe that it does not matter who ended the engagement. If a wedding is called off, the giver should get the engagement ring back regardless of who ended the engagement. After all, a no fault divorce allows couples to end their marriages without disagreements over fault and they believe that engagements should be handled in a like manner.
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