Can i be sued for not returning a promise ring?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can i be sued for not returning a promise ring?

My sister received from her ex as a pre-Christmas gift a promise ring. A few weeks later she found out that he cheated on her so brock up with him. Now he is requesting that she give back the ring or pay him the value of the ring. If she doesn’t he will take her to court.

Asked on February 20, 2019 under Business Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, a "promise" ring is a gift, nothing more or less. A gift, once given, cannot be ungiven: it belongs to the recipient, not the giver, and the giver has no more right to it. While he could try filing a lawsuit (unfortunately, the courts don't prescreen lawsuits to make sure they are valid before accepting them), she should have a good defense based on the fact that this was a gift.
Note: the above answer is based on it being only a "promise" ring and not an actual engagement ring and that your sister was not a fiance, engaged to be married. Actual engagement rings must be given back when the marriage is broken off, regardless of who broke it off, under CA law, such as California Civil Code § 1590.

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 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.

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