You’re Getting Divorced – But Who Keeps the Engagement Ring?
One of the most commonly asked questions we get when parties are getting divorced is, who gets to keep the engagement ring? The answer is “it depends”. There are many factors that can change the answer such as when the ring was given, under what circumstances, and how it was paid for. However, generally speaking, an engagement ring is a conditional gift from one party to another and is usually given before the marriage. These kinds of gifts are not considered marital property, and therefore, are not subject to division. The ring is a conditional gift given on the condition that one must marry. If the marriage does not happen, the condition was not met and the giver of the ring should receive it back. If the gift was given on a holiday though, such as Valentine’s Day or Christmas, the ring could be construed as a regular gift instead of a conditional gift, in which case the giver has much less recourse to get the ring back. However, in most scenarios, and especially in divorce, the recipient of the ring will likely be the one who gets to keep it.
Maryland defines “marital property” as anything acquired during the marriage, regardless of title. This could affect the wedding ring depending on when it was purchased. Or alternatively, the value of the engagement ring, if it was upgraded during the marriage. For example, if an engagement ring was gifted prior to the marriage for a value of $5,000 and then it was traded in during the marriage for a new ring that cost $8,000, the additional $3,000 spent on the upgraded ring would be considered marital monies and that value could be subject to division in a divorce.
We know that rings can be extremely valuable and can cost a great deal of money. Sometimes, it is important to look at the circumstances surrounding the ring and the divorce. Were you married for a short period of time before divorcing? Was it a family heirloom? In that case, while the law may not make you, the decent thing might be to return the ring back to the person who gave it to you. Was it a salty marriage and divorce? Maybe you want to sell the ring and receive its value. There is rarely a black and white answer to the dreaded question of who keeps the ring, but if you contact our law firm, one of our experienced attorneys can help you navigate this, and any other questions you may have.