An engagement ring is one of the most meaningful gifts a person can receive. Engagement rings cost a ton of money — at least two months of one’s salary for many. Receiving an engagement ring during a proposal is exciting and comes with the promise of a bright future together. What happens after you decide to get divorced? You may be wondering if it is okay to sell your engagement and/or wedding ring. Most of the time, the answer is yes.
To Whom Does the Ring Belong?
Once a marriage has occurred, the gifting of the engagement ring is considered complete. In the event of a divorce, the recipient of the engagement ring has a right to keep the gift. Many people wonder when they can sell their engagement ring once they have already separated. In most cases, people can sell their engagement ring before the divorce is finalized. Ultimately, an engagement ring is a gift, but there are some nuances for evaluating who owns the wedding ring before the marriage.
Engagement Rings as Gifts
Legally speaking, an engagement ring is a gift from one person to another person. Typically, one person will purchase the engagement ring and give it to the other person along with a marriage proposal. If the recipient accepts the proposal, he or she will keep the ring, and the wedding planning will begin. A gift is a voluntary transfer of property from one party to another. There are three elements involved in giving a gift — the delivery, an intent to give the gift, and acceptance.
Wedding Rings are Considered Conditional Gifts in Texas
Under Texas law, engagement rings are considered conditional gifts. The gift is not complete until the wedding occurs. The gift is complete once the couple gets married, and the engagement ring becomes the recipient’s separate property. This rule applies regardless of the genders of the person giving the engagement ring or the person receiving it.
What Happens When Someone Breaks Off the Engagement?
If the couple breaks up before the marriage happens, the person who is not at fault for the breakup will generally keep the ring. Texas courts will typically consider who was responsible for the broken engagement when deciding who has ownership of the ring. For example, if one person cheats, leading to the breakup of the engagement, the recipient may be able to keep the ring, even if they both decide to break off the engagement.
If the person who received the ring changes their mind before the wedding takes place, they are required to return the ring. If the person who proposed decides that it was a mistake, they get to take back the ring. If the decision to break up before the wedding is mutual, the ring goes back to the purchaser.
What if the Ring is a Family Heirloom?
Things can become more complicated if the ring is a family heirloom. Suppose a man decides to give his girlfriend his great-grandmother’s wedding ring. If he gives her the family ring that is an heirloom and then he breaks off the engagement, she would typically have the right to keep the ring. She might agree to sell him the ring back at a price suggested by a professional appraiser. However, she cannot be forced to sell it back to him.
What if the Ring is Not Fully Paid Off?
If the man described above purchased a ring on credit and there are still outstanding payments on it, the recipient will have to make the payments if they decide to keep the ring.
Disputing an Engagement Ring in Court
Typically, it is more expensive to get into a legal fight over an engagement ring than for one person to give up the ring. Rings decline in value over time, so in the end, you could find yourself fighting over an object that is worth nearly nothing. However, if the ring is extremely valuable or a family heirloom, you may need to take the dispute to court.
Disputes regarding who can keep an engagement ring are typically resolved privately between the person who proposed and the recipient of the ring. However, sometimes the parties involved cannot come to an agreement privately. In these cases, it might be helpful for the person who is seeking the return of the engagement ring to hire an attorney to write a demand letter for the return of the ring.
If the dispute continues and cannot be resolved at that point, it will typically go to small claims court or county court, depending on the fair market value of the ring. At that point, it is wise for the parties to hire a family law attorney.
Can I Keep My Engagement Ring After a Divorce?
As mentioned above, engagement rings are considered conditional gifts in Texas. Once the couple gets married, the gift becomes the recipient’s to keep. The recipient has the right to keep, sell, destroy, or do whatever they would like to the engagement ring. In some rare cases, the person who gave me the engagement ring may be able to make a claim, but these are rare cases, and they typically involve a very expensive ring.
Alternatives to Selling Your Wedding and/or Engagement Ring
Many people want to sell their engagement ring after breaking up, but there are other options. One choice is to take the rain to a jewelry store and use it to make a new piece of jewelry, such as a unique occasion bracelet or a diamond pendant that will follow you into your new life. Another option is to donate the ring to a charitable cause.