Should I Return the Engagement Ring or Other Gifts if We Get Divorced?
Engagement - and the sparkling, expensive piece of jewelry that typically accompanies it - is the subject of many romantic movies and books. The internet is replete with articles detailing exactly how much a man can expect to spend on an engagement ring, and in a new marriage, a ring is often a couple’s most valuable asset.
Unfortunately, not all relationships end up as happy and hopeful as the moment of engagement. When an engaged couple breaks off the engagement or a married couple decides to get divorced, there are often questions about what happens to the engagement ring or other gifts couples have purchased for each other that might be considered marital property.
What Happens to the Engagement Ring if We Do Not Get Married?
The fate of an engagement ring depends on who broke off the engagement, but generally, it must be returned. Illinois law has determined that if the recipient of the ring breaks off the engagement, she must return the ring. Likewise, if a couple mutually ends the relationship, the ring must be returned.
If the person who proposed breaks off the engagement, Illinois law is less clear. The majority consensus is that the recipient may keep the ring if the giver ends the engagement.
Do I Have to Give Back the Engagement Ring if We Get Divorced?
Because a ring is a gift given in anticipation of marriage, once the marriage has taken place the ring belongs to the recipient as his or her exclusive property. This means it is usually not considered marital property and is not subject to division in the event of a divorce.
However, some modern couples split the cost of an engagement ring. In this case, since the couples were purchasing a valuable asset together, Illinois courts might consider the ring marital property.
In other cases, couples may use a family heirloom as an engagement ring. The best way to ensure that the giver can get an heirloom engagement ring returned to them after divorce is to sign a prenuptial agreement stating that the ring will be returned if the marriage ends.
What Happens to Other Gifts in an Illinois Divorce?
Whether a gift is considered marital property will depend on who gave it, who used it, and whether there is convincing evidence that the property was intended to be gifted. If a wife gives her husband a car for his birthday, but it is registered in both of their names and both drive it, it will be considered marital property.
If a husband gifts his wife real estate, it is probably her personal property and not subject to property division. However, if the property later accrues income (such as if someone else rents the property from the wife), that income will likely be considered marital property.
Work with a Kane County Divorce Attorney
The process of dividing marital property during a divorce can be a headache. Working with an experienced St. Charles divorce attorney at Shaw Family Law, P.C. can help the process move faster and reduce unnecessary complications. Let us advocate on your behalf to get you the marital property to which you are entitled. Call us today for a free initial consultation at 630-584-5550.