Engagement rings symbolize the promise of love, fidelity, and a lifetime commitment to another person. Sometimes, unfortunately, these promises are broken and couples decide to part ways. When this occurs, often the question arises, who gets to keep the engagement ring? Is it returned to the person who gave you the ring, or do you have a right to keep the ring?
In Virginia, whether you can keep the engagement ring depends upon when the break up occurred. If the break up occurred before marriage, the giver of the ring has a right to take back the ring. This is because in Virginia we treat engagement rings as gifts. There are two types of gifts—unconditional and conditional gifts. An unconditional gift is a gift given without any requirements or promises. For example, birthday gifts are usually unconditional gifts; you do not expect anything in return. Conditional gifts are gifts given in return for a promise. The receiver must meet a condition.
Engagement rings are conditional gifts. They are given with the condition or promise that the receiver will marry the giver. If they do not get married, then the engagement belongs to the giver. It does not matter if it was the giver who broke off the engagement or the receiver. The ring belongs to the giver because the promise was broken.
Once the couple gets married we treat engagement rings differently. Once married, the condition or promise is satisfied and the ring belongs to the receiver. But, if the spouses decide to make changes or improvements to the ring, then the ring belongs to both of them. For example, if the couple decided to add extra stones to the engagement ring. This would make the ring belong to both parties. Making improvements or changes to the engagement ring makes the ring marital property.
Marital property is property that belongs to both spouses. If the couple gets divorced and cannot agree who gets to keep the engagement ring, then a judge decides who gets to keep the ring. If you would rather not involve the courts then a family law attorney might be a good choice for you. The attorneys at Phillips & Peters can help you pursue your goals and marital property through a potential settlement. Call today or schedule online a consultation to help you move forward.