NC Law regarding Engagment Ring


#1

Posting this question for a friend.

My friend was given an engagement ring 4 years ago, 6 years into their relationship, and the engagement is now off. He clearly ended the relationship but now as they end their co-habitation, he is claiming she ended it and wants the ring back.

I always thought an engagement ring is a gift and is hers to keep (mine was awarded to me in my divorce) but after several Google searches I see that because they did not actually marry, then it may need to be returned.

What is the law regarding engagement rings in NC?

(Fellow posters, I am interested in the laws surrounding engagement rings or your actual experience with this situation only. Please don’t post a bunch of opinions about whether or not she should return the ring as you have no idea the circumstances and heartache of their 10 year relationship. Thanks.)


#2

Not an attorney

Ring goes back. NC’s law is that an engagement ring is a provisional gift, not an outright gift. The provision is that a marriage occurs. Since no marriage, no gift and the ring goes back to the giver.


#3

This was my understanding as well. I’ve also seen these cases successfully won in small claims court – ring goes back.


#4

Ring goes back if marriage didnt occur.


#5

An engagement ring is a gift given in contemplation of marriage, if the marriage does not take place, the ring should be returned. Fault is not a consideration.


#6

Follow up question: Marriage ending after 24 years. Engagement/wedding ring worth $4200 insurance value. Is it considered marital property and split 50/50? Meaning, if wife wants to keep ring, that she has to find $2100 of value (ie. house equity) to exchange in order to keep it?


#7

The engagement ring is still separate property. In theory though, you are correct with regards to the value of the wedding band. If she wants to keep it, you would also be entitled to property of the same value.


#8

I see these posts are from 2013. Are engagement rings still considered conditional gifts and returned regardless of who broke off the engagement? I’ve heard differing opinions from different attorneys.


#9

Engagement rings are considered gifts given in contemplation of marriage. The ring would need to be returned if the marriage never happens. If married and then later separated, the engagement ring is not marital property but the separate property of the spouse who received the ring.


Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

Rosen Online | Unlimited confidential access to a North Carolina attorney for $199/mo - click here

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service only, a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action. The information posted on this forum is available for public viewing and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship with any individual. These answers are provided for informational purposes only, a person should consult with their own individual legal counsel before taking any action that could affect their legal rights or obligations.


#10

Is this still the case if he told me the ring was my Christmas and birthday gifts and then spent very little on me for Christmas and bought me nothing for my birthday? Then he said he gave it to me and wants me to have it. Then it was to pay me back for money he owes me. Now he wants too sue me for it. I dont understand how it can be a conditional gift and still be so many other things also.


#11

It would depend on the intent of the giver of the ring. If the ring was intended to be in contemplation of marriage, then the rules listed above would apply. If it was never intended to be in contemplation of marriage, then the rules would not apply.


Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

Rosen Online | Unlimited confidential access to a North Carolina attorney for $199/mo - click here

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service only, a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action. The information posted on this forum is available for public viewing and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship with any individual. These answers are provided for informational purposes only, a person should consult with their own individual legal counsel before taking any action that could affect their legal rights or obligations.