SHould she give the ring back?

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ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299
SHould she give the ring back?

I'm sure this topic has been debated before - if an engagement is off does he get the ring back? - but it's a bit more personal and complicated.

My SIL has been engaged for 6 years and she and her common law ex-fiance have 3 kids together - ages 5, 3 and 1. A couple weeks ago she caught him red-handed with her friend in bed downstairs in their own house. He's now out and has found a place of his own, but is refusing to contribute to this month's finances (and likely the future bills as well) because he needs to put down $ on his new apt. Whatever. I told DH that she should sell the ring and use that money to get buy for the next few months. You should see this ring, btw, a huge 1 ct. solitaire and 28 small diamonds and she could probably house/feed/pay bills for 3 or 4 months with the money.. I know that engagement rings are in many cases must be returned to the giver because it symbolizes a contract of sorts - the contemplation of marriage - and that the ring is the 'consideration' - the monetary thing given to make it a legal contract.

In this situation, legally or morally, do you think she is obligated to return the ring to him? I am not sure if adultery entitles her to keep it, but it might. IDK.

RebeccaA'07's picture
Joined: 11/19/07
Posts: 1628

I say all bets are off if HE violated the trust between them by not keeping his winky in his pants. If I were her, I'd pawn it.

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

Legally I don't think adultery comes into play at all. I have always thought the ring is the persons to whom it was given period. I think legally she could pawn it. Morally/emotionally I would totally have no qualms about pawning it.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

I think she could hock it and no judge would make her pay back the $. He abandoned her and the kids financially so in order to feed her family and pay her bills what else is she supposed to do? If I were in her position I would not feel one iota guilty about selling it.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4111

After 6 years and 3 kids the ring is hers to do whatever she wants with it. Besides if she returned it I'm sure he would just sell it anyway.

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

She should sell it and pay some bills. After 6 years, it is definitely hers.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

If you give something to someone, it is there's. To do whatever they see fit. Now I might feel differently if it was a family heirloom, that had been in the family for a long time.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

If you give something to someone, it is there's. To do whatever they see fit. Now I might feel differently if it was a family heirloom, that had been in the family for a long time.

That's not necessarily true. Engagement rings aren't always just gifts:

The engagement is over. In addition to the sorrow, the heartbroken must deal with the question of whether the engagement ring needs to be returned--along with the deposits left with the caterer, the florist, and the dressmaker.
State courts around the nation that have considered the issue -- whether a betrothed can keep the engagement ring or must return it -- have reached different conclusions.
[h=3]When Is a Gift a Gift?[/h]Courts generally treat the engagement ring as a gift, from the donor (the person who gave the ring) to the donee (the person who received it). To be considered a legal gift, three things must be present: the donor's intent to give the ring as a gift, the donor's delivery of it to the donee, and the donee's acceptance of the item. If the person to whom the ring was given can show all three elements, a court will consider the ring to be a gift.
[h=3]Conditional Gifts[/h]However, the majority of courts also consider such a gift to be a conditional one. That means that, until some future event occurs, the gift isn't final; if that event does not occur, then the donor has the right to get the gift back. In real life, many parents use this concept by, for example, giving a teenage daughter the keys to the family car, on the condition that she maintain a certain grade point average for a specified period of time. If she doesn't make the grade, the keys must be returned.
Women who want to keep their engagement rings often argue that the condition needed to make the engagement ring a final gift is simply the acceptance of the proposal of marriage, not the completion of the marriage ceremony. That way, if the engagement is broken, the ring remains her property.
However, this argument often loses. The majority of courts find that the gift of an engagement ring contains an implied condition of marriage; acceptance of the proposal is not the underlying "deal." Absent some other understanding -- say, that the ring is merely a memento of a great trip to Hawaii -- most courts look at engagement rings as conditional gifts given in contemplation of marriage:
The Supreme Court of Montana has come down on the opposite side of this fence, rejecting the conditional gift theory and declaring that an engagement ring is an unconditional, completed gift. Ex-fiances in that western state are unlikely to get help from the courts if they want to get an engagement ring back. Albinger v. Harris, 2002 WL 1226858 (Mont. 2002).
[h=3]Fault for the Break-Up[/h]When divining who gets to keep the engagement ring, courts also do not agree on whether it should matter who did the breaking up or why.
[h=4]Courts That Do Consider the Reasons for the Breakup[/h]To some judges, it isn't fair that the donor should always get the ring back, especially if the donee stood ready to go ahead with the marriage and the donor broke it off. These same judges think it would be unfair for the donee to keep the ring if the engagement was broken because of the donee's unfaithfulness or other wrongdoing. In such cases, they order that the ring should be returned to its purchaser. This "fault-based" rule is the majority approach.
For example, consider the case of George J. Pavlicic, a 75-year-old man, who had a romance with Sara Jane Mills, aged 26. They became engaged in 1949. He bought her a house, two cars, an engagement ring, and a diamond ring in anticipation of their marriage. George then lent her a significant amount of money, including $5,000 to buy a saloon. Sara Jane then disappeared. The next time she was heard from, she had indeed used the $5,000 to buy a saloon, but it was in another city, and she had married another man.
George went to court. He wanted everything that he'd given Sara Jane back -- and he won. Pavlicic v. Vogtsberger, 136 A.2d 127, 130 (Penn. 1957).
Some courts applying a fault-based rule consider the exchange of the ring to be more like a contract than a conditional gift: The ring is just a symbol of the agreement to marry. If that agreement is not performed, then those involved should be restored to their former positions -- as they would be if the contract was for, say, the delivery of a bushel of wheat -- and the ring should be returned to the person who first had it. But if the donor backs out, the donee should keep the ring, because a person who breaches contracts should not be rewarded for doing so. Spinnell v. Quigley, 785 P.2d 1149 (1990).
[h=4]Courts That Don't Consider the Reasons for the Breakup[/h]Other judges think that the whole matter of who broke up with whom isn't any of their business. If the wedding's off, they say, the donor should get the ring back, regardless of why, where, when, or at whose behest the engagement ended. After all, they reason, no-fault divorce makes it possible for marriages to end without bitter court fights over whose fault it was; engagements should be treated the same way.
Just a few years ago, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania stuck steadfastly to the no-fault reasoning and decreed that the donor should always get the ring back if the engagement is broken off, regardless of who broke it off or why. Lindh v. Surman, 742 A.2d 643 (Pa. 1999). Over 20 other states have the same rule.

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/returning-engagement-ring-30198.html

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

I'm normally on the side of "give the ring back," but after six years and three kids, IMHO it's no longer an engagement, which implies a temporary, contemplating things, planning a future together kind of situation. There was serious commitment on both sides to be living together so long and bringing children into the world together. Tell her to sell the ring without guilt, and to consult with an attorney about getting child support ASAP.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

It isn't adultery because they aren't married. Honestly I'd be curious to know the value of the ring, he seems sleazy, CZ wouldn't shock me. I'd get it appraised first, then make a decision. If its really that great of a ring its already insured, so I guess I would just check the insurance policy to determine its value.

I will be honest and say that I think that this "common law" stuff is crap, and rather country. Either get married, or don't. I would not have children with a man who would string me along for 6 years, OR with whom I would string along for 6 years. There is simply something off there, something that was probably obvious before the tryst with the friend.

I'd give it back. Then resort to the courts. I see it as a contract. A contract to marry, not a gift. A diamond tennis bracelet? All mine, baby. An engagement ring with no wedding? Not mine.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"kris_w" wrote:

She should sell it and pay some bills. After 6 years, it is definitely hers.

Just curious, but what is it about 6 years that makes it hers? If I promised to pay off my car, and made payments for 6 years and then stopped paying, would it be "Mine" or would it be repossessed?

If it was 2 years would your answer change? Or 3 months? Or 1 kid vs. three?

I guess I don't get how this is a contingent answer. You either believe that the ring is a promise to marry, or not. If you don't marry, you don't fulfill that promise. Why does length of relationship or number of children born out of wedlock matter, really?

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

"Potter75" wrote:

Just curious, but what is it about 6 years that makes it hers? If I promised to pay off my car, and made payments for 6 years and then stopped paying, would it be "Mine" or would it be repossessed?

If it was 2 years would your answer change? Or 3 months? Or 1 kid vs. three?

I guess I don't get how this is a contingent answer. You either believe that the ring is a promise to marry, or not. If you don't marry, you don't fulfill that promise. Why does length of relationship or number of children born out of wedlock matter, really?

An engagement is the promise of a future commitment, and 6 years together and 3 children *is* a commitment whether there was a ceremony or legal document or not. Too many people have one kid with someone they really shouldn't be with, so I'd say if either of you stick around to have a second kid, that's enough of a commitment to get to keep the ring.

And ITA with your earlier post about not having kids with a man who strung you along for 6 years. Not one kid, and certainly not three.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

Thats all well and fine theoretically, but holds no water legally. They had no legal commitment to one another. Is one year and one kid "enough"? Or 8 years and NO kids? Arbitrary just doesn't work here. You either *are* married, or you aren't. They aren't.

Again, maybe this "common law" stuff holds water in some places ~ I see it as Ma Judd sort of backwater old timey stuff, not real life, but I admit to not knowing the law surrounding it, or if it is even a real thing, not just something that people too lazy or fearful to get married like to call themselves.

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

"Potter75" wrote:

Just curious, but what is it about 6 years that makes it hers? If I promised to pay off my car, and made payments for 6 years and then stopped paying, would it be "Mine" or would it be repossessed?

If it was 2 years would your answer change? Or 3 months? Or 1 kid vs. three?

I guess I don't get how this is a contingent answer. You either believe that the ring is a promise to marry, or not. If you don't marry, you don't fulfill that promise. Why does length of relationship or number of children born out of wedlock matter, really?

Personally, I totally agree with this. If either DH or I had called off our engagement, I absolutely would have given the ring back, because for us it was a contract. But, I'm going to venture a guess that for these people (and many others I see IRL) the "engagement" ring is just a piece of jewelry. I mean, if you are engaged for years and years and never get around to setting a date then it doesn't isn't much of a contract, you know?

I'm assuming that 6 years and 3 kids later, these two (or at least the guy obviously) didn't have too serious a plan to actually get married any time soon (although I could totally be wrong about the couple in the OP, but I've certainly seen lots of this).

If there wasn't actually a wedding in the near future, then what the heck? Sell the ring and take the cash.

Although, I completely agree with Melissa about the likely quality of that ring.

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

I think it is hers, but not because of the 6 years, 3 kids thing. I think it is hers, because HE was the one who broke the 'contract', for lack of a better term.

I actually dont have a problem with people being common law and having a family together. I know a number of people who it has worked for, although I have never seen it as 'stringing' someone along. It is usually an agreement between the two people that they dont need a ceremony and legal document to share their lives together.....that their resources can be better spent other places. I doesnt always mean a lack of commitment, or that one person wants more than the other one.

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

"Potter75" wrote:

Thats all well and fine theoretically, but holds no water legally. They had no legal commitment to one another. Is one year and one kid "enough"? Or 8 years and NO kids? Arbitrary just doesn't work here. You either *are* married, or you aren't. They aren't.

Again, maybe this "common law" stuff holds water in some places ~ I see it as Ma Judd sort of backwater old timey stuff, not real life, but I admit to not knowing the law surrounding it, or if it is even a real thing, not just something that people too lazy or fearful to get married like to call themselves.

It is actually quite common here, and is a real thing Smile In most places in Canada it is after a year that you are considered to be in a common law marriage if you have lived together the whole time. Some places it is more or less time. At that point you can file taxes together, claim each other on your medical....etc. Basically you have all the benefits of being married. My DH and I were considered common law for 5 years before we were married. My sister and her SO were common law for 11 years when he died, but I know couples who have been common law for more than 20 years, some who chose to get married when they are older and their income is higher, no kids at home etc, and some who are happy to remain as they are.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1683

This is actually very interesting to me.

If I were in her shoes, I would keep the ring. Legally, I think the statute of limitations would have run out already. I know when I looked into in California and Florida 3 years ago, CA's was 2 years and FL's was 4 years on contracts. Thus, based on him not asking for it back in 6 years, it became a gift without the contemplation of marriage.

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

"ftmom" wrote:

I actually dont have a problem with people being common law and having a family together. I know a number of people who it has worked for, although I have never seen it as 'stringing' someone along. It is usually an agreement between the two people that they dont need a ceremony and legal document to share their lives together.....that their resources can be better spent other places. I doesnt always mean a lack of commitment, or that one person wants more than the other one.

If they are living together with no intention of marriage, then cool. Do what works for you. My aunt and uncle have been together for ever with no plans of marriage and it works for them.

I see the stringing along happening in situation where the guy proposes to the girl, gives her a ring and the whole nine yards... And then they go on living together for ages without actually getting married. I suspect, in those situations the one of them really does want to get marriage and the other is dragging their feet.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

"Potter75" wrote:

Thats all well and fine theoretically, but holds no water legally. They had no legal commitment to one another. Is one year and one kid "enough"? Or 8 years and NO kids? Arbitrary just doesn't work here. You either *are* married, or you aren't. They aren't.

Again, maybe this "common law" stuff holds water in some places ~ I see it as Ma Judd sort of backwater old timey stuff, not real life, but I admit to not knowing the law surrounding it, or if it is even a real thing, not just something that people too lazy or fearful to get married like to call themselves.

Your POV really surprises me. Without knowing the OP exact situation, there are many people who do not get married because they are against marriage. I know it has been all over the media that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have said they will not get married until all people (Homosexuals) have the right to get married. While I do not subscribe to this philosophy, it has been said on here over and over again if you do not agree with the benefits of marriage, not to get married.

I think it would not be a legal contract unless you signed an agreement like a pre-nuptial agreement or had a prearranged agreement that if things did not work out he would get the ring back.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1683

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

Your POV really surprises me. Without knowing the OP exact situation, there are many people who do not get married because they are against marriage. I know it has been all over the media that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have said they will not get married until all people (Homosexuals) have the right to get married. While I do not subscribe to this philosophy, it has been said on here over and over again if you do not agree with the benefits of marriage, not to get married.

I think it would not be a legal contract unless you signed an agreement like a pre-nuptial agreement or had a prearranged agreement that if things did not work out he would get the ring back.

OT: It's hard for me to take their stance seriously since both are divorced and 2 of their combined 3 marriages happened after DOMA was signed.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

Your POV really surprises me. Without knowing the OP exact situation, there are many people who do not get married because they are against marriage. I know it has been all over the media that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have said they will not get married until all people (Homosexuals) have the right to get married. While I do not subscribe to this philosophy, it has been said on here over and over again if you do not agree with the benefits of marriage, not to get married.

I think it would not be a legal contract unless you signed an agreement like a pre-nuptial agreement or had a prearranged agreement that if things did not work out he would get the ring back.

Why does my POV surprise you and what on earth do Brad Pitt (divorced) and Angelina (twice, at least divorced) have to do with anything? I love the legal benefits or marriage, its why I chose to get married. Gravy and protection and legal as well as community recognition of my vow to remain married to the person with whom I took vows to.

People who are against marriage and choose not to get married are fine with me. They just should not expect the same benefits that the married enjoy (as they also carry none of the same risks).

If this "common law" thing is so real and legally binding, the ring is not hers, anyway, it would be common property (I assume) and therefore fall under the rules surrounding the assets of the "marriage". If they are "common law" married, the ring is then "common property" and not hers to sell, unless she gives him half.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1533

If they didnt have kids together, I would say she should give it back. But right now she needs to do what it takes to provide for the kids. If that means selling the ring then she should.

My ring is an heirloom, we have plans to give it to our son someday to give to he chooses too and it really scares me to think about it going to someone that wouldnt understand and appreciate the family memories it holds.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1683

"Potter75" wrote:

Why does my POV surprise you and what on earth do Brad Pitt (divorced) and Angelina (twice, at least divorced) have to do with anything? I love the legal benefits or marriage, its why I chose to get married. Gravy and protection and legal as well as community recognition of my vow to remain married to the person with whom I took vows to.

People who are against marriage and choose not to get married are fine with me. They just should not expect the same benefits that the married enjoy (as they also carry none of the same risks).

If this "common law" thing is so real and legally binding, the ring is not hers, anyway, it would be common property (I assume) and therefore fall under the rules surrounding the assets of the "marriage". If they are "common law" married, the ring is then "common property" and not hers to sell, unless she gives him half.

AFAIK, wedding rings and other gifts are not considered marital assets. Just like birthday, Christmas, and other gifts aren't common property.

Joined: 03/14/09
Posts: 624

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

I know it has been all over the media that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have said they will not get married until all people (Homosexuals) have the right to get married.

Gay people already have the right to get married. It's just now they have to marry straight people instead of each other.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"ethanwinfield" wrote:

AFAIK, wedding rings and other gifts are not considered marital assets. Just like birthday, Christmas, and other gifts aren't common property.

They aren't married. And there are absolutely cases of both engagement and wedding rings being considered marital assets, I could google case law but don't feel like it. You are also working under the assumption that only the man paid for the ring, which may or may not be the case. Obvs these people don't have a pre nup as they were too busy having children and philandering to get married, but that would also figure into the equation. Mine is a joint asset as per insurance, though I don't know how the court would view it in terms of a divorce.

Again, I didn't really know "common law" marriage existed outside of shows like Deadwood, so I certainly can't pretend to understand the nuances of the law regarding ownership or split assets.

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

She should sell it. If he pitches a fit or asks for his half she can just tell him she'll apply it to what he owes her for their kids living expenses while his trashy butt is trying to find a place to live and not doing his fair share financially.

Eta- my ring is insured in my name. In our prenup it is listed as an asset for me. It was a gift and unless it wad an heirloom, then it should be the receivers to keep. Unless the person proposing specified that they were using it asd a contract for marriage.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"wlillie" wrote:

She should sell it. If he pitches a fit or asks for his half she can just tell him she'll apply it to what he owes her for their kids living expenses while his trashy butt is trying to find a place to live and not doing his fair share financially.

Eta- my ring is insured in my name. In our prenup it is listed as an asset for me. It was a gift and unless it wad an heirloom, then it should be the receivers to keep. Unless the person proposing specified that they were using it asd a contract for marriage.

Isn't a prenup a contract for marriage? so are you saying that your prenup (signed before marriage) listed the ring as yours regardless of whether you married or not?

Thats interesting. Is it a family heirloom on your side or did your purchase it or something? It seems rare to me that an asset gifted in advance of marriage would be unconditionally awarded prior to a marriage, in a contract contingent upon marriage.

Joined: 06/04/07
Posts: 1368

I would say that if they live in an area that common law marriage is recognized, then she should have no issues keeping or selling the ring because they would technically be married without the written commitment. If she chose to sell the ring, she easily could justify why it was sold when he left without notice leaving her with his share of the debt for joint living expenses that required 30 days notice (or longer) to terminate during that time period and any cash remaining could be applied towards the ongoing support of their mutual kids.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1683

"Potter75" wrote:

They aren't married. And there are absolutely cases of both engagement and wedding rings being considered marital assets, I could google case law but don't feel like it. You are also working under the assumption that only the man paid for the ring, which may or may not be the case. Obvs these people don't have a pre nup as they were too busy having children and philandering to get married, but that would also figure into the equation. Mine is a joint asset as per insurance, though I don't know how the court would view it in terms of a divorce.

Again, I didn't really know "common law" marriage existed outside of shows like Deadwood, so I certainly can't pretend to understand the nuances of the law regarding ownership or split assets.

http://www.divorcesource.com/research/dl/division/94apr78.shtml

What I am finding is that an engagement ring is a pre-marital gift. At least in my state, anything you brought into the marriage is yours. If you co-mingle stuff it can become joint, but kind of a moot point with an engagement ring.

If I understand common law marriage correctly, the couple will actually have to go through divorce proceedings. With common law marriage, the parties are living as a married couple sans the formal ceremony.

In many cases common-law couples have the same rights as married couples under federal law. Various federal laws include "common-law status," which automatically takes effect once two people (of any gender) have lived together in a conjugal relationship for five full years. Common-law partners may be eligible for various federal government spousal benefits. As family law varies between provinces, there are differences between the provinces regarding the recognition of common-law marriage. No province, other than Saskatchewan, sanctions married persons to be capable in family law of having more than one spouse at the same time.

Based on this, it sounds like they are considered spouses in the eyes of the law.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

"Potter75" wrote:

It isn't adultery because they aren't married. Honestly I'd be curious to know the value of the ring, he seems sleazy, CZ wouldn't shock me. I'd get it appraised first, then make a decision. If its really that great of a ring its already insured, so I guess I would just check the insurance policy to determine its value.

I will be honest and say that I think that this "common law" stuff is crap, and rather country. Either get married, or don't. I would not have children with a man who would string me along for 6 years, OR with whom I would string along for 6 years. There is simply something off there, something that was probably obvious before the tryst with the friend.

I'd give it back. Then resort to the courts. I see it as a contract. A contract to marry, not a gift. A diamond tennis bracelet? All mine, baby. An engagement ring with no wedding? Not mine.

Melis, I can't even begin to tell the half of it! The engagement ring was a showy piece he gave her when she got pg with the first (who will be 6 in a few months) to say to her family "I want you all to believe I can financially take care of her." The whole time there was NEVER any serious wedding planning or even talk about when a wedding might take place. The guy is bad, bad, bad news. When DH and I got engaged he took one look at my 1/2 carat ring and said to DH "I could've gotten you twice the ring for that price." Yeah, he's a cheap prick who always is doing shady deals and earning a dishonest living. Thing is, SIL knew all that about him when they first hooked up, and for some banal reason thought that having baby after baby would solidfy the deal. She needs serious therapy. Off my tangent, part of me is like "Screw him, girl. Take him to the cleaners." and the other part of me is like "You made your bed....." I don't want to see our nephews going without the essentials though, and if he refuses to pony up for his responsibilities I don't know if she has any other choice BUT to sell that ugly a$$ ring. It looks like the stereotypical highschool class ring. Nothing classy or tasteful or feminine about it.

If I were engaged and broke up with my fiance, no matter the circumstances, I'd give the ring back. Don't want it, or the memories.

Oh, and about the common law thing....She's not only entitled to child support but is also entitled to alimony, if you can believe that. Unfortunately, and this is a MAJOR road block for her, she made more on paper than he did last year. THe reason being he didn't report to the govt the vast majority of his earnings from his business - he paid his employees under the table and not much can be traced, ergo very little legit income. If they had 50/50 custody of the kids she would actually end up paying him child support every month.

Starryblue702's picture
Joined: 04/06/11
Posts: 5454

Legally she has to give the ring back, regardless of his faults. Adultery is not against the law. That being said, if he owes on any past bills she can sue for that, but the engagement ring is a totally separate matter.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1683

"Claire'sMommy" wrote:

Melis, I can't even begin to tell the half of it! The engagement ring was a showy piece he gave her when she got pg with the first (who will be 6 in a few months) to say to her family " I want you all to believe I can financially take care of her." The whole time there was NEVER any serious wedding planning or even talk about when a wedding might take place. The guy is bad, bad, bad news. When DH and I got engaged he took one look at my 1/2 carat ring and said to DH "I could've gotten you twice the ring for that price." Yeah, he's a cheap prick who always is doing shady deals and earning a dishonest living. Thing is, SIL knew all that about him when they first hooked up, and for some banal reason thought that having baby after baby would solidfy the deal. She needs serious therapy. Off my tangent, part of me is like "Screw him, girl. Take him to the cleaners." and the other part of me is like "You made your bed....." I don't want to see our nephews going without the essentials though, and if he refuses to pony up for his responsibilities I don't know if she has any other choice BUT to sell that ugly a$$ ring. It looks like the stereotypical highschool class ring. Nothing classy or tasteful or feminine about it.

If I were engaged and broke up with my fiance, no matter the circumstances, I'd give the ring back. Don't want it, or the memories.

Oh, and about the common law thing....She's not only entitled to child support but is also entitled to alimony, if you can believe that. Unfortunately, and this is a MAJOR road block for her, she made more on paper than he did last year. THe reason being he didn't report to the govt the vast majority of his earnings from his business - he paid his employees under the table and not much can be traced, ergo very little legit income. If they had 50/50 custody of the kids she would actually end up paying him child support every month.

If he never had any intentions of marrying her, it wasn't an "engagement" ring; it was a gift. If there's a consideration of spousal support, they're considered married in the eyes of the law. Out of curiosity, how did they file taxes last year?

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1683

"Starryblue702" wrote:

Legally she has to give the ring back, regardless of his faults. Adultery is not against the law. That being said, if he owes on any past bills she can sue for that, but the engagement ring is a totally separate matter.

Legally how? If through common-law marriage they are considered married, what legal ground would he have to the ring? Personally, I would let him try to get it from me in court. No way I would give it up without a judgment against me.

mommytoMR.FACE's picture
Joined: 04/10/09
Posts: 780

If he wants the ring back, it's probably best that he is single and she doesn't marry him.

Starryblue702's picture
Joined: 04/06/11
Posts: 5454

"ethanwinfield" wrote:

Legally how? If through common-law marriage they are considered married, what legal ground would he have to the ring? Personally, I would let him try to get it from me in court. No way I would give it up without a judgment against me.

It doesn't matter. You're bringing emotions into the situation and those do not hold up in a court of law. If he gave her that ring in exchange for her hand in marriage and she said yes, it was an acceptance of the proposal. By not marrying him, she is severing that deal that she made. If she would have said no to the proposal, she would not have gotten the ring. If this were bought as an anniversary gift or a birthday gift it would be a different story. But the fact is that it's an engagement ring, and the law is very clear on the fact that it has to be returned if no marriage is performed. I don't necessarily agree with it under the circumstances, but that's just the way it is.

Joined: 06/04/07
Posts: 1368

"Starryblue702" wrote:

It doesn't matter. You're bringing emotions into the situation and those do not hold up in a court of law. If he gave her that ring in exchange for her hand in marriage and she said yes, it was an acceptance of the proposal. By not marrying him, she is severing that deal that she made. If she would have said no to the proposal, she would not have gotten the ring. If this were bought as an anniversary gift or a birthday gift it would be a different story. But the fact is that it's an engagement ring, and the law is very clear on the fact that it has to be returned if no marriage is performed. I don't necessarily agree with it under the circumstances, but that's just the way it is.

Legally, it does matter. Since they live in an area that recognizes common law marriages and they fall under common law marriage guidelines for that area's criteria, the ring is hers to do whatever she wanted with it. It doesn't have to be on a marriage certificate to prove she's entitled to her ring.

mommytoMR.FACE's picture
Joined: 04/10/09
Posts: 780

It's quite subjective.

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/returning-engagement-ring-30198.html

The engagement is over. In addition to the sorrow, the heartbroken must deal with the question of whether the engagement ring needs to be returned--along with the deposits left with the caterer, the florist, and the dressmaker.

State courts around the nation that have considered the issue -- whether a betrothed can keep the engagement ring or must return it -- have reached different conclusions.
When Is a Gift a Gift?

Courts generally treat the engagement ring as a gift, from the donor (the person who gave the ring) to the donee (the person who received it). To be considered a legal gift, three things must be present: the donor's intent to give the ring as a gift, the donor's delivery of it to the donee, and the donee's acceptance of the item. If the person to whom the ring was given can show all three elements, a court will consider the ring to be a gift.
Conditional Gifts

However, the majority of courts also consider such a gift to be a conditional one. That means that, until some future event occurs, the gift isn't final; if that event does not occur, then the donor has the right to get the gift back. In real life, many parents use this concept by, for example, giving a teenage daughter the keys to the family car, on the condition that she maintain a certain grade point average for a specified period of time. If she doesn't make the grade, the keys must be returned.

Women who want to keep their engagement rings often argue that the condition needed to make the engagement ring a final gift is simply the acceptance of the proposal of marriage, not the completion of the marriage ceremony. That way, if the engagement is broken, the ring remains her property.

However, this argument often loses. The majority of courts find that the gift of an engagement ring contains an implied condition of marriage; acceptance of the proposal is not the underlying "deal." Absent some other understanding -- say, that the ring is merely a memento of a great trip to Hawaii -- most courts look at engagement rings as conditional gifts given in contemplation of marriage:

The Supreme Court of Montana has come down on the opposite side of this fence, rejecting the conditional gift theory and declaring that an engagement ring is an unconditional, completed gift. Ex-fiances in that western state are unlikely to get help from the courts if they want to get an engagement ring back. Albinger v. Harris, 2002 WL 1226858 (Mont. 2002).
Fault for the Break-Up

When divining who gets to keep the engagement ring, courts also do not agree on whether it should matter who did the breaking up or why.
Courts That Do Consider the Reasons for the Breakup

To some judges, it isn't fair that the donor should always get the ring back, especially if the donee stood ready to go ahead with the marriage and the donor broke it off. These same judges think it would be unfair for the donee to keep the ring if the engagement was broken because of the donee's unfaithfulness or other wrongdoing. In such cases, they order that the ring should be returned to its purchaser. This "fault-based" rule is the majority approach.

For example, consider the case of George J. Pavlicic, a 75-year-old man, who had a romance with Sara Jane Mills, aged 26. They became engaged in 1949. He bought her a house, two cars, an engagement ring, and a diamond ring in anticipation of their marriage. George then lent her a significant amount of money, including $5,000 to buy a saloon. Sara Jane then disappeared. The next time she was heard from, she had indeed used the $5,000 to buy a saloon, but it was in another city, and she had married another man.

George went to court. He wanted everything that he'd given Sara Jane back -- and he won. Pavlicic v. Vogtsberger, 136 A.2d 127, 130 (Penn. 1957).

Some courts applying a fault-based rule consider the exchange of the ring to be more like a contract than a conditional gift: The ring is just a symbol of the agreement to marry. If that agreement is not performed, then those involved should be restored to their former positions -- as they would be if the contract was for, say, the delivery of a bushel of wheat -- and the ring should be returned to the person who first had it. But if the donor backs out, the donee should keep the ring, because a person who breaches contracts should not be rewarded for doing so. Spinnell v. Quigley, 785 P.2d 1149 (1990).
Courts That Don't Consider the Reasons for the Breakup

Other judges think that the whole matter of who broke up with whom isn't any of their business. If the wedding's off, they say, the donor should get the ring back, regardless of why, where, when, or at whose behest the engagement ended. After all, they reason, no-fault divorce makes it possible for marriages to end without bitter court fights over whose fault it was; engagements should be treated the same way.

Just a few years ago, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania stuck steadfastly to the no-fault reasoning and decreed that the donor should always get the ring back if the engagement is broken off, regardless of who broke it off or why. Lindh v. Surman, 742 A.2d 643 (Pa. 1999). Over 20 other states have the same rule.

Justices on the Supreme Court of Kansas, which also adopted the no-fault rule in 1997, detailed the difficulties that they imagined would be theirs with a fault-based approach:hould courts be asked to determine which of the following grounds for breaking an engagement is fault or justified? (1) The parties have nothing in common; (2) one party cannot stand prospective in-laws; (3) a minor child of one of the parties is hostile to and will not accept the other party; (4) an adult child of one of the parties will not accept the other party; (5) the parties' pets do not get along; Diablo a party was too hasty in proposing or accepting the proposal; (7) the engagement was a rebound situation which is now regretted; (8) one party has untidy habits that irritate the other; or (9) the parties have religious differences.
Heiman v. Parrish, 942 P.2d 631, 637 (Kan. 1997).

Joined: 06/04/07
Posts: 1368

I don't think it really isn't very subjective if it's no longer technically an engagement anymore but a common law marriage that requires a divorce in court.

RebeccaA'07's picture
Joined: 11/19/07
Posts: 1628

"Starryblue702" wrote:

Legally she has to give the ring back, regardless of his faults. Adultery is not against the law. That being said, if he owes on any past bills she can sue for that, but the engagement ring is a totally separate matter.

I disagree. It's a common law marriage, it IS legal in that territory. She's entitled to her belongings, the ring was a gift to her.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

"Starryblue702" wrote:

Legally she has to give the ring back, regardless of his faults. Adultery is not against the law. That being said, if he owes on any past bills she can sue for that, but the engagement ring is a totally separate matter.

By what law? I have never heard of an engagement ring being a legal contract.

Joined: 02/25/12
Posts: 15

I think the best thing for her to do would be to consult a lawyer in her area before she sells it.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1683

"Starryblue702" wrote:

It doesn't matter. You're bringing emotions into the situation and those do not hold up in a court of law. If he gave her that ring in exchange for her hand in marriage and she said yes, it was an acceptance of the proposal. By not marrying him, she is severing that deal that she made. If she would have said no to the proposal, she would not have gotten the ring. If this were bought as an anniversary gift or a birthday gift it would be a different story. But the fact is that it's an engagement ring, and the law is very clear on the fact that it has to be returned if no marriage is performed. I don't necessarily agree with it under the circumstances, but that's just the way it is.

No, I'm not bringing emotions into the situation. That's one of the things civil courts are for. If I thought a satisfied a debt but a creditor thought otherwise, I would let them take me to court. For example, if I were a landlord and withheld a security deposit, I would let the tenat sue me before just giving them money. Let the judge decide.

Under the circumstances it looks like they are married. It will be interesting to see how it will play out.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

By what law? I have never heard of an engagement ring being a legal contract.

Ah but it is, Bonita. Many jurisdictions recognize the giving of an engagement ring to be a contract, and this falls under contract law, not family law (at least here). No matter what their common law status and despite the fact they are entitled to many benefits of marriage being common law, the ring was given under (at least the pretense) of a civil marriage taking place. The contract was not fulfilled by them marrying, so the ring should be returned. That's the argument that has been successfully made in many law suits where the ring was not returned. But, there appears to be a lot in terms of the circumstances that's open to interpretation and varies from state to state or province to province. Deniz and I cited the same article about the interpretations of engagement rings being gifts/contracts etc.

I think that after such a lengthy period of time a court might deem the ring to be a gift and she wouldn't have to give it back. There are arguments on both sides, I think. Interestingly, if she DOES have to give it back, he has to ask for it. She doesn't have to volunteer it.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

"Claire'sMommy" wrote:

Oh, and about the common law thing....She's not only entitled to child support but is also entitled to alimony, if you can believe that. Unfortunately, and this is a MAJOR road block for her, she made more on paper than he did last year. THe reason being he didn't report to the govt the vast majority of his earnings from his business - he paid his employees under the table and not much can be traced, ergo very little legit income. If they had 50/50 custody of the kids she would actually end up paying him child support every month.

Hire an auditor. Blum 3 If there was money changing hands, there *will* be a record of it somewhere, it just might take a bit of hunting to find it. His cell phone records will identify people who can be subpoenaed & asked about their business with him, employees who were paid under the table will fess up when confronted with a plea bargain for testifying against him, businesses that he paid in cash will likely have invoices or other records that can be documented. If she has *any* evidence that he was making more money than he claimed, she should give it all to the court. Cash deposits into her bank account, bills that were paid but that add up to more than she made, etc.