The Engagement is Off – Do I Need to Return the Engagement Ring?

2-5The Engagement is Off – Do I Need to Return the Engagement Ring?

The day you get engaged is only eclipsed by your wedding day. Your engagement is the beginning of your new life together and the start of planning for the big day. The engagement ring is one of the most well-known symbols of love in our society. The engagement ring is a way to show that you are betrothed and that you are in a committed relationship. Unfortunately, if you end your engagement, the wedding will not take place. If that happens, do you need to return the engagement ring?


Gift in Contemplation of Marriage

An engagement ring is generally a gift made in contemplation of marriage. As such, the ring does not technically transfer ownership unless the marriage takes place. The marriage must take place to complete the transaction. The circumstances of the gift can make a difference in the ownership of the ring. For instance, if a partner gets down on one knee to propose and puts a ring on the partner’s finger, the ring is clearly a gift in contemplation of marriage. However, it is not always that clear.


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Who Broke the Engagement?

Sometimes, the way the relationship ended could have an impact on whether you should give the ring back. If the person wearing the ring is the one who calls off the engagement, it is usually considered proper etiquette to return the ring. After all, you ended the relationship and are no longer going to use the ring for its intended use. If the other party calls off the wedding, they may ask for the ring back. Whether you give it back is a personal choice, but you must keep in mind that the other person may be the rightful owner.


What if the Ring Was a Gift?wedding-cake-1-1319359

Sometimes, the ring could have been given without a marriage proposal. In that case, the ring was actually a gift and does not have to be returned. For example, someone gives a ring to you as a birthday gift. If the ring is clearly an engagement ring, and it is given as a beginning to the engagement, it is most likely still a gift in contemplation of marriage. In some cases, it may not be clear that the ring is for engagement. That could make it easier to prove that the ring belongs exclusively to the recipient.


What Should You Do With Your Engagement Ring?

If you are certain that the ring was given to you as engagement jewelry, it is likely best to return the ring. Before you return it, you should make sure to document the return so there is no question later. One way to document the return is through a text message or email that states that you returned the ring and that your former partner received it. If your partner tells you to keep the ring, you should also put that in writing in case there is a change of heart later. You and your partner may need to distribute other property that you purchased in preparation for your wedding.


Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, at (704) 370-2828 for a consultation about all types of family law matters. Get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.






The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.



gift | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (

ENGAGEMENT RING definition | Cambridge English Dictionary


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wedding cake 1 Free Photo Download | FreeImages


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