Getting engaged is one of the most exciting events in one’s life. You have found the love of your life and cannot wait to spend the rest of your life with them. However, things can go badly and suddenly the engagement is off. Along with dealing with pain and heartache, there is the issue of who gets to keep the engagement ring?

A couple can come to a mutual decision of who gets to keep the ring. If the couple comes to a mutual decision, there is no need for attorneys or the court to get involved. The ex-couple simply decides among themselves who gets to keep the ring. In a perfect world, a mutual decision would always occur. But the world is not perfect, and conflict arises. Then, the attorneys and the court will help make the determination of who gets to keep the ring.

The Ring as a Gift

One of the first questions is if the ring is a gift. A gift is “a voluntary transfer of property or of a property interest from one individual to another, made gratuitously to the recipient.” In order for something the be a gift, there must be:

  • Intent of the donor to give the item to the donee;
  • There must be a physical delivery of the intended gift; and
  • The donee must accept the gift.

If these elements are present, the court may find that the engagement ring was a gift, and therefore, the recipient of the ring can keep it. Furthermore, special consideration is given in situations in which the ring is given on a holiday. Christmas, birthdays, New Years, Valentines Day, and other holidays that are traditionally marked by gift giving are given special consideration by the courts.

Aside from a general gift, sometimes a gift can be classified as a conditional gift. A conditional gift is one that “is subject to or dependent on a condition.” In these situations, there is a condition that needs to be met – getting married – before the donee can keep the ring. In Illinois, courts generally classify engagement rings as conditional gifts. However, there is consideration of who called off the engagement. If the woman calls off the wedding, usually she will have to return the ring because she did not fulfill the condition attached to the ring – getting married. Alternatively, when the man calls off the engagement, the woman may keep the ring because she did not break any of the conditions to the gift. She was still willing to get married.

Issue arises when there is a mutual decision to end the engagement. If this happens, the court will try to determine who decided to end the engagement first.

If you are going through a broken engagement, divorce, or any other family law issue, Hamilton & Antonsen, Ltd. can help. These Joliet attorneys are well versed in family law issues and can help you determine your rights and options available. Contact us today and we will guide you through any family law issues you may have.