Breaking up is hard to do. It is even harder if two people were engaged and preparing for a wedding and the joy of living their lives together. Unfortunately, people do split after becoming engaged and realize that they do not want to spend the rest of their life with the other person. If the engagement and wedding are called off, who gets to keep the expensive engagement ring? Can the recipient keep it, or does she have to return it?
Georgia Gift Law
An engagement is not a legal status in the state of Georgia, so the actual legal code is silent on engagements that are broken. Therefore, the determination of the ownership of an engagement ring must be found under gift law.
A valid gift in the state of Georgia must meet three requirements. The giver must have meant to give the gift, the recipient must have accepted the gift, and the gift itself must have been delivered. In the case of engagement rings, these three requirements are typically met easily.
However, the state of Georgia looks at engagement rings as a conditional gift. In the case of an engagement ring, the condition would be contemplation of marriage. Georgia law has established that any gift that is made in contemplation of marriage is subject to an implied condition that the marriage will occur, and if this condition does not occur, the engagement ring should be returned.
Some cases have attempted to argue that the proposal itself was the condition, and the condition was met by the recipient answering “yes” to the proposal of marriage. However, most courts have rejected this specific legal analysis and determined that the condition required of an engagement ring is the marriage itself. It is important to note that every state handles the issue of conditional gifts differently.
There may be special considerations that allow a person to receive their engagement ring back after giving it in anticipation of marriage.
- Prenuptial agreement. In some cases, a prenuptial agreement will allow an agreement between both parties that an engagement ring will be returned.
- Family heirloom. Courts are not insensitive to the fact that in some cases an engagement ring is a family heirloom, and may require the recipient to give it back. If you have a family heirloom and are considering giving it as an engagement gift, we highly recommend you visit with an experienced attorney before doing so to sign a prenuptial agreement in case the marriage does not occur.
- Special days. If an engagement ring was given on a very specific holiday, such as Valentine’s Day, or a birthday, the engagement ring will likely not have to be returned as it will be considered a gift not only in anticipation of marriage but simply as a gift.
Let Us Help You Today
Your engagement ring that once was a symbol of your upcoming marriage and life together is now at the center of a difficult and challenging battle. Consulting with an Atlanta family attorney will help you understand your rights and obligations with respect to the engagement ring. Contact The Solomon Firm at 404-565-0641 today for a free consultation.