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What happens to your engagement ring if the wedding doesn't happen?

When a marriage proposal is made those words and that gesture are often accompanied by an engagement ring. The cost to purchase that engagement ring can be substantial and is an investment no matter how you look at it.

Unfortunately, the best laid plans of romantic couples do not always come out the other side just as they had planned. When the couple does not actually make it to their wedding day the question remains: what happens to the ring? If you are in a position where this is a relevant question then this blog post from the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC is for you.

The law associated with Irrevocable Gifts

Engagement rings are ultimately a gift- an expensive, emotion filled gift. For a gift to be irrevocable- i.e., one that cannot be taken away from the receiver of the gift- there must be three circumstances in place:

  1. The receiver of the ring must have willingly and knowingly accepted it
  2. The ring must have actually been delivered to the finger of the recipient. It is not enough for the intended recipient to argue that the ring with purchased with the intent to deliver it at a future date.
  3. The giver of the ring must have intended to give the ring as a gift to the recipient

If you have a ring on your finger right now, your wedding has been called off and the above three circumstances can be met then the odds are good that you now own that ring free and clear, not so fast.

Engagement rings as Irrevocable Gifts

Texas law differs from the generally applied principles of Irrevocable Gifts, however. In Texas an engagement ring is considered to be a conditional gift. A gift at Christmas time is a gift that is not subject to any other event occurring. When you give your cousin a pair of socks those socks are hers no matter what else happens. An engagement ring doesn’t work that way as a gift, at least in Texas. An engagement ring, as with any conditional gift, can be taken back if the event that led to the giving of the gift does not occur.

We can walk through this a little more clearly now that the rules have been laid out. In terms of a condition that needs to be fulfilled, the wedding is that condition in regard to the gift of an engagement ring. If your fiancé asked you to marry him and planted a rock on your finger he did so with the assumption and with the intent to follow through and marry you. Once that wedding occurs and you are officially married then that ring is yours as an irrevocable gift. However, if the wedding does not occur for any reason then the condition upon which the ring was gifted to you will not be met and the ring is no longer your irrevocable property.

Courts can dig deep to determine who is at fault in the breakup of the wedding plans

Leave it to the courts in Texas to do a deep dive on whose fault it was in breaking up the marriage plans. In so doing, however, you may be able to keep that ring even if the wedding does not occur. Reason being is that courts in Texas have previously held that if the giver of the ring is the cause of the break up of those marriage plans then he or she is not entitled to get the ring back. On the other hand, if you as the recipient were the main cause of the failure to walk down the aisle then the ring should return to the possession of the giver. Just as with a divorce or child custody matter, a court will examine the individual circumstances of your case and make a determination based on the specific facts as presented as evidence.

Furthermore, if you and your spouse-to-be enter into an agreement that states what should happen with the ring if the marriage does not come to fruition then a court will honor that agreement so long as it is in writing and signed by both parties. In that situation the conditional gift rule would not apply.

What if you get a divorce? Do you have to give the ring back at that point?

The answer to this question should be pretty obvious- at least in Texas. If you get married and one party or the other files for divorce the ring stays with the person who has worn it throughout the course of the marriage. We’ve already touched on the reason why- the condition precedent that needed to be met for the ring to be considered an irrevocable gift- actually getting married- has already happened. Unless a premarital agreement or something to that effect has been agreed to that has a different outcome already determined for the ring- either spouse may keep their ring if they so choose.

I have seen clients attempt to negotiate for the engagement ring that they gave to their spouse-to-be during the divorce process with mixed results. Often times the ring is a family heirloom that has a tremendous amount of importance to the giver. While the other spouse is not obligated to return the ring he or she often will in exchange for a gaining a piece of personal property that might otherwise not be awarded to them in a settlement.

Questions about marriage, divorce or any other subject in family law? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC

If you are getting married you may have a question or two about a pre-martial agreement. Or maybe you are already married and need to speak to an attorney about a divorce. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC serves clients in many different areas of family law and would be honored to speak to you about your situation. A free of charge consultation is only a phone call away where your questions can be answered.


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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring, Texas Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Spring, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.


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