What happens to the engagement ring after a split?

On Behalf of | Apr 16, 2022 | Property Division

When you accepted your partner’s engagement ring, you expected to walk down the aisle and live happily ever after. Unfortunately, though, life has a way of sabotaging anyone’s plans. If your relationship is now over, you may wonder whether you can keep your engagement ring.

The answer may not be as clear-cut as you hope. In Massachusetts, who gets the ring after a split depends on a few factors.

Did your breakup happen before the wedding?

If you ended your relationship before you said, “I do,” you may have an easier time holding onto your engagement ring. This is especially true if your relationship ended because of your partner’s wrongdoing, such as having an affair. If he or she did nothing wrong, though, you probably have to return the ring.

Courts in Massachusetts tend to view engagement rings as conditional gifts, with the condition being the wedding. This means if the wedding does not happen, the condition that completes the transfer of ownership is not met.

Did your breakup happen after the wedding?

If you have decided to divorce your spouse, your ring may be part of the marital estate. According to Massachusetts law, divorcing spouses typically divide the marital estate equitably. Therefore, in the spirit of fairness, you may have to give up cash or other assets in exchange for exclusive ownership of your ring.

Your ring’s post-divorce future may depend on whether it is a separate or marital asset. Ultimately, because the ring’s classification probably hinges on a careful review of both the law and your circumstances, it is important to understand your options for keeping the ring before filing for divorce.