Bye-Bye, Leave the Bling?

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Congrats! You’re engaged. Until you’re not. Somehow between the magical, perfect day when he or she popped the question, the bling is still blingy, but your partner is purely putrid.

We are not sure how couples go from euphoria to ‘you-suck’ so quickly, but it happens. While the emotional fallout of the wedding no-go is for another post, and we aren’t getting into any ethical issues around whether you should or want to return the rock, we want to know: once he puts a ring on it, is it a case of ‘no-take-backs’ or can your partner legally do a ring recall? 

We turned to Attorney Larry Bodine, a well-respected editor for The National Trial Lawyers to ask him about what happens when love becomes a matter of law, even when ‘I Dos’ don’t.

Do You Have to Return the Ring?

It depends on where you live!

Attorney Bodine says, “Who is legally entitled to the ring varies by state law – and no two states handle it quite the same way. The majority of state courts…. have ruled that an engagement ring is a conditional gift, and if the engagement is broken off, the ring must be returned to the giver regardless of what happened.” New York, Pennsylvania and Kansas are examples of states that  fall into this category.

Some states, though, side with the dumpee— and legally that person gets to keep the ring. California falls into this category. It gets complicated, though, so check if this applies to you.

Finally, listen up Montana folks. The Supreme Court there ruled the ring is a gift, period, and can’t be taken back once it is given to the recipient. 

Attorney Bodine says people have actually gone to court over engagement rings. Before you think about going the legal route, though, he suggests you ask your lawyer the following questions:

  • What’s the law in my state on who gets the wedding ring when an engagement is broken? 
  • What can I do if my fiancé moves out of state after calling off the wedding and takes the ring? 
  • What might happen if I sell an engagement ring after the engagement is called off?

Bitterness Over Bling

When emotions run high, the need for vengeance can set in. When it goes the legal route, it can get downright ugly. In some cases, jilted lovers have not only battled over bling in court but also sued for the costs of the wedding that didn’t happen as well as emotional distress. The  pain drags out and the bills add up quickly. Often, Bodine says, the outcome isn’t favorable for anyone.

His advice: “A broken engagement is a terrible heartbreak, but at least you don’t have to go through a divorce, too. It’s better to find out about that your relationship was doomed before it became legally binding. Do yourself a favor and make a breakup clear-cut, complete and permanent. People who become obsessed with their exes can be charged as stalkers, and nobody wants that.”

Yeah, there’s that.

What do you think? Should women have to give back the ring if the engagement is broken?

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