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Who Gets to Keep The Ring From a Broken Engagement?  

Contributed by SaVannah Reading.

For better or worse, money and property decisions often go hand in hand with matters of the heart. According to the Knot’s 2019 Real Weddings Study, the cost of the average American wedding is $33,900. Furthermore, according to The Knot’s 2020 Jewelry and Engagement Study, the average cost of an engagement ring is currently $5,500. If your engagement doesn’t work out, one thing you may have to consider is who has a right to keep the ring.

State laws differ on whether or not the ring must be returned, but the majority of states consider an engagement ring to be a conditional gift that the giver can demand back if the condition (marriage) is not met.  The engagement ring is not considered fully gifted from one person to the other until the wedding happens. Most courts in Arkansas use the majority approach and let the giver of the ring choose to take the ring back if the wedding did not occur.

Some states will factor in the circumstances of a canceled engagement when determining who gets to keep an engagement ring. For instance, if a wedding was called off because of one partner’s infidelities, this could affect who gets to keep the ring. Arkansas does not have a firm rule for determining who gets to keep a ring if a partner calls off the wedding for any reason. However, most courts in Arkansas will not consider the reason the engagement was broken off when deciding who keeps the ring. This means that, most of the time, whoever purchased the ring will probably get to keep it, even if it seems unfair under the circumstances.

It is also important to note that in Arkansas, once a couple gets married, the engagement ring and wedding rings that were exchanged will be considered an unconditional gift. If you get married and then divorced, even a month later, you do not have the right to ask for the engagement ring or wedding rings back, even if you alone paid for them or they were family heirlooms.  However, divisions of property issues are often complex- if you are involved in a dispute involving an engagement ring from a broken engagement, contact one of our experienced family law attorneys to help you navigate the situation.

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