Often in a divorce action, an engagement will be at dispute. Sometimes the ring is a family heirloom and the recipient does not wish to return it. An engagement ring, however, is a gift to which a condition subsequent, the fulfillment of the marriage agreement, is attached. As such, upon marriage, the ring unconditionally becomes the property of the recipient and “retains its character as separate property not subject to equitable distribution” if the parties subsequently divorce. If, however, the parties are never married, the condition subsequent never occurred and the recipient must return the ring.
Although divorce does not often discussed upon marriage, if there is a ring or other family heirloom that is being gifted from one person to another, the parties may wish to memorialize any agreements in writing, whether in the form of a prenuptial agreement, or just a simple writing that states in the even in the event of a divorce, an engagement ring or other heirloom will be returned.
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