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Who gets the engagement ring after a divorce?

On Behalf of | Apr 20, 2018 | Property Division |

Some of the biggest issues in a divorce are provoked by the littlest things — like engagement rings.

Engagement rings have both financial and emotional value — which can drive a conflict between a divorcing couple that can’t be easily settled. If it’s an issue in your divorce, here’s what you need to know:

Under the law in California, an engagement ring is considered a conditional gift — meaning that it can be revoked if the condition on which it was given isn’t met. If the marriage doesn’t happen after the ring is accepted, the ring goes back to the original owner.

However, if the marriage happened — even briefly — the recipient of the ring gets to keep it. That can be a big problem when the ring is very sentimental in nature. For example, if you give your grandmother’s one-of-a-kind engagement ring to your bride and the marriage falls apart after only a year, you may expect the ring back so it can stay in your family. Your bride, however, is legally entitled to keep it.

Is there anything you can do to prevent that from happening? It depends.

If it’s before the marriage takes place, you could always address the ring as part of a prenuptial agreement. Prenups can often take the fear out of commitment by ensuring that everyone will be treated fairly if the marriage doesn’t work. Just be prepared to give up something else of equal financial value to the ring in order to be fair to your intended spouse.

If it’s too late for an agreement, you can try to negotiate for the return of the ring. If you’re only concerned about its financial value, you probably won’t get far — that belongs to the recipient by law, no matter how much you spent or how short the marriage. It isn’t considered part of the marital assets.

If you’re concerned about the ring’s emotional value, however, you might have a chance to appeal to your spouse’s better nature. Just be ready to give up something your spouse wants in return.

Like most assets, even an engagement ring can be bartered for — it all depends on how badly you want it back and what you’re willing to sacrifice in its place.

Source: HuffPost, “Give Me My Ring Back! (Who Gets the Wedding Rings in a Divorce?),” accessed April 20, 2018


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