Today www.news.com.au reports on a New York couple arguing over the return of an engagement ring after the demise of their relationship. This followed an earlier report this week from www.news.com.au about a Canberra man seeking to recover an engagement ring through the ACT’s Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
“Who gets to keep the ring?” is not an uncommon question that family lawyers are asked. Both in respect of defacto couples who become engaged or married couples, the issue of the return or retention of an engagement and/or wedding ring can often become an issue which becomes bigger than Ben Hur.
In the past the Australian Courts typically required the return of the engagement ring upon separation. That is, if the ring had been given as a gift in contemplation of marriage and the marriage did not subsequently proceed, the ring giver was entitled to the return of the ring.
However, the position is now not so straightforward because the majority of couples live together before marriage or remain living together but do not marry, but wearing “engagement” style rights.
The question of who is entitled to the engagement ring is dependent upon a number of factors including:
- the value of the engagement ring and, in fact, the total value of the property pool;
- the length of the parties’ relationship and/or marriage;
- the financial and non-financial contributions made by each party during the relationship; and
- each parties future needs as they emerge from the relationship following separation.
Sometimes, the issue of return of the engagement ring never gets raised, often because couples simply do not consider it relevant in the totality of things (James Packer may have something to say about that!)
If the issue of the engagement ring is raised (or indeed the value of any other jewellery of either party), then because the ring is classed as property, its value is added to the total property pool and it forms part of the pool available for division between the parties.
The answer to the question “who gets the ring back?” is therefore dependent upon the facts and circumstances of the individual matter. The Family Law team at Marino Law can answer this question and any other Family Law question that you may have relating to your property settlement, spousal maintenance or parenting issues. All initial enquiries are taken by our Family Law Partner, so don’t hesitate to contact us now.