Are Diamonds Really Forever?

The giving of an engagement ring in anticipation of marriage has been a long held and universal tradition in western culture. While popular culture has highlighted the romantic act of giving an engagement ring, never have we been privy to the legal fights which occur when the engagement falls apart. When the promise of marriage never comes true, who gets to keep the engagement ring?

Although Colorado is a “no fault” state when it comes to seeking a divorce, when it comes to keeping the engagement ring, the person responsible for the broken marriage promise loses. Colorado courts have held that when an engagement ring is given in consideration of a promise to marry and if the marriage does not occur, the determination of which party gets to keep the ring is based on a determination of which party is at fault for the non-occurring marriage.

The engagement ring is considered a conditional gift which must be returned in certain conditions if the marriage does not occur. Assuming that most engagement rings are given to the future wife by the future husband: If the future bride breaks off the engagement through no fault of the future husband, the engagement ring must be returned to the giver. Similarly if the engagement is broken by mutual consent, the ring must be returned to the giver. However, if the future Husband breaks off the engagement through no fault of the future wife, the future wife may have the ability to keep the engagement ring.

The moral of the story seems to be: “If you want to keep the ring, don’t be the one responsible for the failed promise to marry.”

J. Ryann Peyton, Esq., LLM