Picture this example, if you will.
Jay decides to ask his long-time sweetheart Sally to marry him. He goes
to the local jeweler, spends a large sum of money on an extravagant and
beautiful engagement ring. He proposes, Sally happily says yes, and the
two start planning a fairy-tale wedding. However, two months away from
the big day, Sally drops a bombshell on Jay—she’s been having
an affair with her neighbor.
One question we receive in situations like this: who keeps that lavish
engagement ring that Jay spent so much money on? Does Jay have the right
to ask for it back? Does Sally have to give it back to him? Who technically owns it?
In this instance, the ring is what is designated to be a “conditional
gift.” There are no specific laws that pertain to these types of
gifts, however there are several case decisions that are relied upon as
precedents. The first was a decision in 1979 which involved an interest
in purchased real estate. While a ring is slightly different from real
estate, this same decision has applied to engagement rings.
Essentially, what both the trial and Supreme Court in Colorado ruled is
that engagement gifts are conditioned upon marriage. Engagement rings
are unquestionably the most common type of gift that is marriage-contingent,
so in many cases this case has been applied as well.
Colorado is a no-fault state in divorce cases, but that does
not apply when breaking an engagement. In these instances, conduct or actions
can and will be considered by the court when making a ruling on possessions.
In this instance, if Jay chooses to break off the engagement on her own
accord, for whatever reason, he is still entitled to ask for his ring
back due to misconduct by Sally.
There are two ways that Sally could keep the ring. Had the affair never
happened, and Jay chose to break the engagement off for his own reasons,
then Sally could keep the ring because Jay had rendered it impossible
for Sally to fulfill her promise of getting married. Likewise, had Sally
broken the engagement as a result of Jay having the affair, the fault
for the break-off then belongs to Jay.
All of this then goes out the window once the couple ties the knot. Had
Sally and Jay completed their wedding before news of the affair broke,
the ring would be Sally’s to keep, as she had completed the conditions
of the gift.
If you need assistance with a family law issue, including possession of
valuable property during a divorce, call a skilled Denver family attorney
to review your options. Attorney Sean Peek of
Peek Family Law, LLC, has extensive experience helping Colorado residents navigate through the
strenuous path of a family law issue, and has developed a proven technique
for providing compassionate, caring counsel with aggressive and impactful
Call Peek Family Law, LLC today at 303.857.5797 to schedule your
initial consultation for all of your family law needs!