One question that is often posed to New Jersey divorce lawyers actually has nothing to do with divorce. It is: Who gets the engagement ring when the marriage never takes place?
The answer to that question usually has a lot of financial significance, given the high cost of such rings.
Under New Jersey family law, the answer is clear: In New Jersey, an engagement ring is considered a conditional gift – the recipient only gets to keep the ring if the marriage does indeed occur. An engagement ring is typically given by a future husband to his future wife, and she accepts it on the condition that the couple will get married. If the engagement is called off before the wedding, the recipient must return the ring to the giver.
A common misconception is that if the future husband calls off the wedding, the future wife may keep her engagement ring. This is not actually true. In 1987, a New Jersey family law court judge decided in a case entitled Aronow v. Silver that it does not matter who terminated the relationship or why. All that matters is that the wedding never happened. Subsequent New Jersey appeals courts have subsequently approved the reasoning in that case.
But future husbands beware – if you have given your fiancée an engagement ring and are planning to break off the engagement, your fiancée may argue that the ring was given as a gift, not in contemplation of marriage. For example, if you proposed to her around the Christmas holiday, she might claim that the ring was a Christmas gift, not an engagement ring.
Engagement rings are valuable and often expensive. If you are getting divorced, don’t lose out on your share. Salvaggio Law Group devotes its entire practice to New Jersey Family Law matters, including those related to premarital agreements, divorce, and division of assets. If you want to talk, please call us at 973-447-4981 or fill out the Contact Form on our firm’s website.