Tag Archives: non marital property
It’s a familiar scene: a man gets down on one knee, opens a small box containing a very expensive piece of jewelry, and proposes to the woman of his dreams. She graciously accepts, he puts the ring on her finger; they kiss and live happily ever after…well, at least that’s how it happens in the movies. Unfortunately, in the real world, not everyone lives this “fairy tale.” When things go awry, especially after a short term marriage, people often wonder, “who gets the wedding ring in a divorce?”
Engagement Rings and Divorce
When a relationship dissolves and an engagement breaks off, it is not uncommon for controversy to arise over who has the legal right to the engagement ring. In determining the rightful and legal owner of the ring, Illinois courts look to which party ended the engagement. Unfortunately, because the couple was never actually married and therefore not going through a divorce the same rules do not apply as with married couples.
Ordinarily, if one spouse has a change of heart and unilaterally breaks the engagement, she or he is required to return the ring. The reasoning behind this policy is quite simple: the law rests on the notion that a gift given in contemplation of marriage (the ring) is conditional on the subsequent marriage of the parties. The party who breaks the condition has no right to any property acquired under such pretenses. Similarly, if the engagement is “mutually broken,” the ring should also be returned. For example, in situations where infidelity arises during the engagement, the cheating party is viewed as the cause for breaking the engagement and, therefore, will not have a claim to the engagement ring.