Irvine, CA (Law Firm Newswire) October 27, 2014 - Who has the right to the engagement ring if an engagement is terminated?
Most couples think that when a man presents a woman with a diamond ring, the ring belongs to the fiancée even if the engagement is broken. That is not necessarily the case. In California, there are specific rules dealing with ownership of the ring and the right to its recovery if the couple decides not to marry.
“Diamonds may not always be forever,” said Gerald Maggio, an Orange Country divorce attorney. “If an engagement is called off, under California general property law, there are three requirements to prove that the ring was a valid gift: the intention to give by the giver, the transfer of the item by delivery or title to the recipient and the acceptance of the item by the recipient.”
California’s Civil Code § 1590 states that if either party contemplating marriage gives property or money assuming there is to be a marriage, and the recipient refuses to marry or the couple changes their minds, the giver may recover the gift or its value.
Sometimes hard feelings prevail when either party to an intended marriage decides to call it off. A fiancée may end the engagement and decide to pawn the ring, for instance. The fiancé then has the option of suing for the return of the ring or obtaining its value.
“In other words, if you present your fiancée with an engagement ring and she calls it off, you may recover your ring or the value of the ring,” Maggio explained. “”However, if you break the engagement, she keeps the ring.”
Cases such as this are typically pled as two causes of action: seeking recovery of the item itself and/or asking for damages to be awarded in the form of money, if the ring has been sold or given away again. Should the hypothetical jilted fiancé decide to pursue his options in court and wishes to recover the ring, he is best advised to not have the case heard in Small Claims Court, which only renders monetary judgments.
Engagement and wedding bands can create complex issues whether conflict appears at the beginning of a relationship or years later when a divorce is underway (and community property is at issue). It is best to not assume the fiancée or wife always owns a ring. Instead, seek informed counsel from an experienced divorce attorney.
The Maggio Law Firm
420 Exchange Suite 270
Irvine, CA 92602
Call: (949) 553-0304
3750 University Avenue, Suite 670
Riverside, CA 92501
Call: (949) 553-0304