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Broken Engagement: Who Gets to Keep the Ring (By Law)?

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woman handing back an engagement ring to a man

It’s Valentine’s Day.  Did you know that on Valentine’s Day almost 6 million guys will propose this year?  But, thinking like a lawyer here…

What happens if the engagement falls apart?  Who keeps the ring?

Luckily, I never needed to know the answer to this question but there IS an answer!

Florida law is pretty clear that the gift of an engagement ring is made on the condition that a marriage will follow. This is basically the law of gifts.

This was decided in the case of Matter of Stage, 85 B.R. 880 (Bankr. M.D. Fla. 1988). Basically, the ring is what is called a “conditional gift”…a gift on the condition that a marriage will follow.

To simplify things, look at who’s heart was broken:

  • The person who gives the engagement ring is entitled to its return if the engagement is terminated by the person receiving the ring or by mutual consent by both parties.
  • In other words, if the guy breaks up with his girl, she gets to keep the ring!  But if the girl calls it off, she should hand the ring back over.

But what happens if there is an argument about who broke the engagement off? Well, that’s when it can get ugly and lawyers like myself can get involved.

That basically sums it up. In conclusion, love each other. And, be careful who you propose to. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Jeremy Hogan
Jeremy Hogan
Attorney Jeremy Hogan is a partner at Hogan & Hogan.