If a wedding is called off, must the engagement ring be returned?

Asked on July 31, 2015 under Family Law, Illinois

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

In most jurisdictions, an engagement ring is considered to be a "conditional gift". This means it is a gift given on condition that a future event occur (in this case one given in contemplation of marriage). If the event fails to occur, then the donor has the right to get the gift back. Therefore, if the wedding is called off, the would-be-bride must return the ring.  This is true no matter whose "fault" it was that the marriage did not take place.

That all having been said, in the minority of jurisdictions, fault does matter. The rationale is that it isn't fair that the donor should always get the ring back, especially if the donee was ready, willing and able to go ahead with the wedding and it was who the donor broke it off.

 

For further information, you can put a call into a local attorney or goggle the issue to find out the law in your state.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.