Knowledgeable, Effective Guidance

What happens to an engagement ring in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Mar 12, 2022 | Divorce |

When a couple gets engaged, thousands of dollars are often spent on an engagement ring. Many people recommend that someone intending to promote proposed spend any higher salary on just the ring. Some people buy a brand-new, custom ring when they get engaged. Others resize or update family heirlooms.

According to 2018 data, Illinois is one of the most expensive states for engagement rings, with the average couple spending nearly $9,200 on an engagement ring. It could be the most valuable piece of someone’s wardrobe or worth as much as their share of a vehicle.

What happens to that engagement ring when the couple divorces?

An engagement ring is often separate property

Once you get married, everything you own is potentially shared marital property subject to equitable distribution when you divorce. However, the engagement ring is a gift purchased and given prior to the marriage.

Therefore, it falls in the category of separate property as an asset owned prior to marriage and as a gift. Typically, the person who received the engagement ring can keep it after a divorce.

Are there exceptions to this rule?

Sometimes, engagement jewelry has significant family value for the man proposing. He may offer the ring with the understanding that his fiance will return it if they do not get married or if they ever divorce.

The best protection in this kind of situation comes from drafting a prenuptial agreement addressing the engagement ring. However, a spouse could potentially ask for the ring back in a litigated divorce based on a verbal promise at the time of the engagement. Thinking about your most valuable assets can help you plan ahead for property division in your divorce.