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It was the greatest day in your life. He got down on one knee and proposed. Finally. You tweeted, your facebooked, you instagrammed, you did everything but fly a plane across Wrigley Field to let everyone know he finally asked you to marry him. The venue was picked, the flowers were chosen and the caterer decided on cajun cuisine. Two weeks before your big day, he sat across from you at dinner and said, “I can’t do this. I don’t want to marry you.” The tears started flowing and what was supposed to be the most amazing day in your life wasn’t going to happen.

What’s left after an engagement is the wedding ring. It’s easy to cancel venues and stop payments to other vendors involved, but what about the ring? Do you keep it, or do you give it back. If you’re a guy, do you ask for it back, or do you chuck deuces and cut your losses?

In the case of etiquette versus the law, etiquette says that the ring should be returned. But according to the legal system it all depends on where you live, who broke off the engagement and how you received it. According to Attorney Sean Walton, Jr., “Once a person gives an engagement ring they no longer have any legal right to the ring. In most jurisdictions the gift of personal property must include delivery, donative intent, and acceptance. So once you propose, your intent is for her to take and keep the ring, and if she says yes… it’s a wrap.”

As Attorney Walton stated, different jurisdictions have different rules. In Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin an engagement ring is considered a gift in contemplation of a marriage. Basically, if there’s no marriage, the ring should be returned. Just like there are no fault divorces in these states, the same applies to engagements as well. But in California, it all depends on who breaks the engagement. If the guy breaks up, he doesn’t get the ring back. But if the other party is the one to dissolve the engagement, they have to return the ring. Montana doesn’t care who bought the ring. An engagement ring is considered a gift, and you can keep it.

I’m going to side with the State of Montana on this one. Plus no one likes an “Indian Giver” (go ahead, let me know how unPC that term is). Attorney Shauntese Trye, with Trye, Butler , Mayo & Griffith in Baltimore, Maryland says, “The law doesn’t reward Indian Givers, you don’t get your gift back”. Thankfully I’ve never had my person to ask for the ring back. He knew better. I’m not sure what type of person would actually have the balls to ask for an engagement ring back. What do you do with the ring? Save it for the next broad? In looking at the Zales return policy, they only allow you up to 100 days for a full refund. I guess people need to know the laws of the state, in case they ever want to ask for an engagement ring back. Apparently, the best place to get engaged is in a nice town in Montana.

Do you think an engagement ring should be returned? Should a person ask for it back?

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  • Ravi

    It’s a conditional gift. Any transfer of property can be contingent upon a certain set of circumstances. For example, I can give someone a piece of land provided they build a school within 3 years. There is a possibility of reverter in such a situation. The land would go back to me if the conditions are not met.

    • That’s the case if you lay out those conditions when you give the gift… nobody gives someone an engagement ring stating, “if you don’t marry me I get the ring back.”

  • Jenn

    A.) The term Indian Giver is horrible. B.) I think it should be based on who breaks off the engagement. If the bride breaks it off she should give the ring back. If he breaks off the engagement he should kiss the ring goodbye. Short of abuse or infidelity (in which case the ring could be argued as a form of restitution) this just seems like courtesy.

  • First off minus 20 for even using the term indian giver knowing it is offensive. Second the ring is not a gift it is a down payment for a marriage, no marriage no ring.

    • Cathy D

      I’m in relationship with a guy who asked me to marry if in May, Memorial Day, if you will, a holiday. Now first of all we live together. He is still legally married to another woman. He claims he’s divorcing her, when in reality she’s the one who filed. He won’t agree to her terms, so legally he’s in a binding contract of marriage with her until it’s granted. By law, he should’ve never entered in another contract which engagement is considered, while in another LEGAL BINDING CONTRACT OF THE SAME. He has broken it off 3 times in 3 months and has given the ring back each time. Ummmmm, I’m sorry, he toyed with my emotions for months, he’s not getting the ring back.

  • No, I wouldn’t give it back. Judge me if you must :)

    • Cathy D

      I’m in relationship with a guy who asked me to marry if in May, Memorial Day, if you will, a holiday. Now first of all we live together. He is still legally married to another woman. He claims he’s divorcing her, when in reality she’s the one who filed. He won’t agree to her terms, so legally he’s in a binding contract of marriage with her until it’s granted. By law, he should’ve never entered in another contract which engagement is considered, while in another LEGAL BINDING CONTRACT OF THE SAME. He has broken it off 3 times in 3 months and has given the ring back each time. Ummmmm, I’m sorry, he toyed with my emotions for months, he’s not getting the ring back.