Thursday, March 23, 2023
Who keeps the engagement ring after a breakup? 2 law professors explain why you might want a prenup for your diamond
Engagement rings are a relatively recent trend, which did not become commonplace in the United States until the end of the Great Depression. In 1940, only about 10% of brides received diamond rings. By 1990, that number rose to 80%. With the trend going strong, the common question is, “who owns the engagement ring?”
With the abolition of “breach of promise” actions, brides could keep the ring without getting married. When U.S. divorce courts stopped determining who was to blame for the breakup, known as no-fault divorce, they started applying a similar framework to broken engagements.
States take different policy approaches to whether or not an engagement ring is a gift. Montanna, for example, determined that treating engagement rings as gifts conditional upon marriage perpetuates gender bias. On the other hand, California has a statute that dictates a ring must be returned if calling off the wedding was a mutual decision.
For more information see Naomi Cahn and Julia D. Mahoney “Who keeps the engagement ring after a breakup? 2 law professors explain why you might want a prenup for your diamond” The Conversation, March 22, 2023.
Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (University of Virginia) for bringing this article to my attention.