NC Law regarding Engagment Ring


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.)


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.


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

(No regrets) #4

Ring goes back if marriage didnt occur.

(Kathleen Putiri) #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.


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?

(Kathleen Putiri) #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.

(Lisa) #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.

(Anna Ayscue) #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

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