Who Keeps the engagement ring in a divorce?

As family law attorneys, we are often asked this question. In Minnesota, the best answer is…

It depends.

Minnesota Courts view an engagement ring as a conditional gift that is given in contemplation of marriage. Thus, ownership of the ring depends on whether an engagement was followed by a wedding. If there is no marriage, there is no gift and the ring must be returned, regardless of who called off the engagement.

Once the parties are married, Minnesota Courts treat the engagement ring differently. Because marriage satisfies the condition of the gift, the engagement ring becomes the property of the recipient. If the parties later divorce, the ring giver would not be entitled to its return and would have no right to any of its value. This is because an engagement ring is also considered non-marital property.

In Minnesota, when spouses divorce they divide up what is called the marital property, which includes any assets or debts that were acquired during the marriage. In contrast, non-marital property is the property that the parties acquired separately, generally before they were married. This property belongs to them independent of the marriage. Unlike gifts of jewelry between spouses during the marriage (which would be martial property), Minnesota Courts treat the engagement ring as non-marital property.

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