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Can I keep my engagement ring if we break up?

It remains a sad truth that not all engagements end in fairy tale weddings. For those relationships that are consigned to the ash heap of regrets, the final disposition of the ownership of the engagement ring can become a point of contention.

Looking to the past, tradition states that the one who broke the engagement had to forfeit the ring. For instance, if the prospective groom gets cold feet and doesn't show up at the altar to join his bride, the ring can sometimes be considered a consolation prize of sorts to the jilted woman.

But does the law agree? Most courts view engagement rings as conditional gifts, with the condition being the marriage. In other words, if the marriage does not occur, the giver may reclaim the engagement ring on those grounds.

There can be successful legal challenges to this, however. For instance, if the bride-to-be paid for a portion of her own ring, or used a diamond from a piece of her family's heirloom jewelry collection, she would likely still retain rights to it.

Irrespective of the collateral emotional damage from a broken engagement, considering the high value of some engagement rings, disputes over the ownership of the symbolic piece of jewelry can be understandable.

Courts are loathe to wade into fault-based broken engagement disputes, but if you feel that you have a legitimate right to the ring following a broken engagement, a Maricopa County family law attorney can review your case and offer advice and guidance on whether or not to pursue the return of the ring.

Source: FindLaw, "What Happens to the Engagement Ring in a Broken Engagement?," accessed Nov. 24, 2017

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