After Divorce or Nixed Engagement, Who Keeps the Ring in NJ?
Planning to pop the question this Valentine's Day?
Since the Garden State sees up to 30,000 divorce complaints on an annual basis, you may be interested in learning who gets to keep the engagement ring if things don't work out.
Each state has its own set of rules on determining the rightful owner.
New Jersey lands in the majority of states who say the ring lawfully belongs to the recipient in the event of a divorce.
"Once the parties are married, the ring is a full and complete gift," said Bonnie Frost, a family law attorney with Einhorn Harris in Denville. "So it remains the property, the separate property, of the person who received the engagement ring,"
But before vows are exchanged, she notes, the diamond has some strings attached. If an engagement is broken off, the person who gifted the ring has the legal right to get it back — no matter who's at fault for the failed relationship.
Unlike New Jersey, certain states including Massachusetts and New Hampshire take into consideration who was at fault when ruling who takes possession of the ring, according to a 2017 analysis from WP Diamonds, an online buyer of diamonds, jewelry and watches.
In Montana, the analysis finds, an engagement ring is considered a full-fledged gift right off the bat, and the recipient keeps the ring even if the couple never gets married.
During divorce proceedings in New Jersey, an equitable distribution state, gifts exchanged between spouses are divided in some way. If a woman were to receive an upgraded ring after the couple says "I do," the newer ring would be "split" in the event of a divorce, Frost said.