Leesa M. Poag, Attorney, Woodruff Family Law Group
Boy meets girl. They fall in love. Before you know it, he’s down on one knee with an expensive diamond ring in his hand. With Valentines Day quickly approaching, it is a scene that is sure to play out all across the Triad. But what happens when the relationship ends before the wedding bells have even had a chance to ring? When instead of meeting with a wedding planner, the couple is turning to a family law attorney for advice?
As difficult as a broken engagement can be on a couple, the heartache and hard feelings only grow more intense when the formerly-engaged couple cannot agree on who should keep that shiny souvenir of the marriage that was never meant to be. When the plan changes from walking down the aisle to walking away, there is still that lingering question that must be answered – who gets to keep the engagement ring?
Under the early common law, Courts allowed these jilted fiancés to recover monetary damages when the wedding was called off under a claim of breach of promise to marry. Though the legal system seems to have realized that you can’t put a price tag on a broken heart and distanced itself from these types of claims, the question of the engagement ring is still a remarkably common dispute facing the courts today.
Should the person who initially purchased the ring be entitled to its return? If it was given as a gift, should the recipient be allowed to keep it? The majority of courts have held that the answer to those questions comes down to the intention of the giver.
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