Who gets the ring in a New Jersey divorce?

By Matt Rooney
_

It is not uncommon for divorcing spouses to inquire as to who gets to keep one of any couple’s most expensive pieces of personal property: the engagement ring.

While there are few “bright-line rule” in family court, this particular issue is relatively straightforward for most divorce litigants. 

In New Jersey, engagement rings are considered “conditional gifts.” The party giving the ring is therefore entitled to get the ring back if the engagement is broken off and there is no wedding. That’s because the giving of the ring was conditioned upon marriage. If the marriage does not happen? The condition isn’t satisfied and the ring should be returned. Many contractual arrangements function similarly. 

The analysis changes after both parties say “I do.” At the time of marriage, the ring transforms into a completed gift since the condition – marriage – was satisfied. The ring does not just belong to the recipient; it’s also immune from equitable distribution, meaning that the party who gave it cannot sue for “half” of the value, or any other sum of equity in the ring, at the time of divorce. The owner keeps it outright. 

These concepts were illustrated in the New Jersey Superior Court case Winer v. Winer, 241 N.J. Super. 510 (1990). The Winer Husband had given his fiancee an expensive four-carat engagement ring. They subsequently married. Later, after the parties initiated divorce proceedings, the Court ultimately ruled that the engagement ring had been a conditional gift subject to the marriage. After the marriage happened, the ring was no longer a conditional gift. The Wife could keep the ring outright.

Do you have questions about your New Jersey divorce case?

Help is only a quick phone call or e-mail away.

Navigating difficult family legal disputes is our passion! We’re here to walk you through the process and achieve a best-case outcome given the unique facts of your case.

If you have any questions regarding divorce generally, alimony, equitable distribution, the determination of income for child support, custody, parenting time, or any other family court matters in New Jersey, please contact us online today or call (856) 546-1350 for a confidential consultation with one of our skilled New Jersey family court lawyers.

_

Note: The outcome of every case is fact specific. Your particular case’s results will vary depending on a wide range of legal and issues and factors. The facts of your case may not apply to or relate to the case described above.

_

_

The following two tabs change content below.
Matt Rooney

Matt Rooney

Matt Rooney is a former Superior Court law clerk, New Jersey attorney and noted political commentator who focuses his practice on family law, municipal court and personal injury matters.

Copyright © 2012 -- DeMichele & DeMichele, P.C.

The material presented on this web site is intended for general information purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice on any specific matter or circumstance. Transmission and receipt of information contained on this web site does not create an attorney-client relationship between the user and our law firm. Only an express written agreement between the user and our law firm can create an attorney-client relationship. No user should act, or refrain from acting, based on any information contained on this web site, without first seeking appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.