Down on one knee, you open that little box. The rock catches in the light, and you’re not thinking about how much it cost.
Still, it did cost something — a pretty penny probably. The national average of an engagement ring is $7,750. It’s not uncommon for that figure to creep upwards to $20,000, especially for affluent couples. Now that the relationship isn’t working out, you remember just how much you spent on that diamond ring. It would be nice to get it back, right?
The ring in a broken engagement
In Kentucky, an engagement ring is often considered a “conditional gift.” This means that the receiver accepts it along with the promise of a future marriage. So, when the promise is not fulfilled and marriage does not take place, the conditions of the gift are broken. In this situation, the courts have in the past ruled that the giver of the ring then gets it back, as seen in Walter v. Moore.
However, there is the potential that courts will look at who is at fault for the relationship’s end and consider that in who gets to keep the engagement ring. Depending on your situation, this could change who keeps it.
The ring in a divorce
In a divorce, marital property laws come into play. Kentucky abides by equitable distribution laws, which first means that all assets are divided into marital and non-marital categories. Anything obtained before the marriage is non-marital property and stays with the party who owns it. This includes the engagement ring.
Since the ring is given to the receiver as a gift before the marriage takes place, it becomes their non-marital property. Even if it is still considered a conditional gift, the condition of the ring has been fulfilled because the marriage did indeed take place, though it didn’t last forever.
So, although you may get the ring back if your engagement is broken, you probably won’t in a divorce.