Rights to the Engagement Ring When the Wedding is Called Off
In Massachusetts an Engagement Ring is usually considered a conditional gift. What’s a conditional gift you ask? A conditional gift is a gift that is dependent on something happening. In this circumstance the engagement ring is conditional on marriage taking place. Historically the court has looked to who and why the wedding was called off in determining if the ring should be returned. In the landmark case of De Cicco v. Barker, 339 Mass. 457 (1959) the court held that if the “contract to marry” is terminated without fault or the doing of the person who gave the engagement ring (“the donor”) then he/she may recover the ring. A later case, Poirier v. Raad, 1995 Mass. Super. LEXIS 843, 3 Mass. Law Reporter 265 (Worcester Superior Court), determined that the party terminating the engagement isn’t necessarily at fault. In any event, the individual circumstances surrounding the termination of the engagement will govern.
After marriage, the gift is complete (i.e. no longer conditional) and therefore becomes a part of the marital estate subject to property division. The court considers many factors in determining how property should be divided. Some of those factors include, but are not limited to: the age and health of you and your spouse, the conduct of both of you during the course of the marriage, both your needs, both your debts, both of your abilities to earn money in the future/acquire assets, both of your education levels, both of your current occupations and your current and future earning potential.
If you have a legal issue call the experienced attorneys at Levine-Piro Law today at (978) 637-2048.