You're a bride-to-be and it's a week out from the big day. You've had a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach for a few days now and you finally give into your doubts about your would-be husband. You call off the wedding. You look at the diamond engagement ring nestled snugly on your finger and think to yourself, "Surely, I can still keep this."
Engagement ring image from Shutterstock
While you would assume the engagement ring is a gift and therefore can be kept by the recipient, the law would disagree. Whether or not you can keep that shiny rock after you pull the plug on your wedding is dependent on a few factors, including how long you and your jilted lover were in a relationship for.
If you and your ex-partner were engaged and living together for a period of over two years, then it would be considred a de facto relationship. If you've been in a relationship for less than two years but have had a child together, that would still be considered a de facto arrangement.
Under the Family Law Act 1975, the engagement right will become part of the property settlement, which is handled by the legal representative of both parties. Depending on how the settlement pans out, you may be able to keep the ring, even if your ex-partner demands that you return it to him.
But if a couple had not been living together for at least two years before the relationship fell apart, then it would not considered a de facto arrangement and property disputes will go through the State Courts, which will then decide who gets what.
According to Andersons Solicitors:
In the Family Law jurisdiction, the Court has to assess the ownership and value of the property pool. This is based on the evidence put before the Court by the parties. Generally it is only cost effective to include 'big ticket' items, which are items of significant value such as real property, share portfolios, superannuation or investments. If an engagement ring was purchased for a modest sum of say $3,000.00, it is likely the real second hand value is much less. Generally neither the parties nor the Court would include the ring in the property pool as a separate item, but it may simply form part of the parties 'personal effects'.
It is likely that, at this stage, legal representatives for each party will advise them to stop squabbling over the engagement ring, given that's it's not worth a lot in the grander scheme of things. The legal fees would amount to more than the value of the ring itself if the pair continues to quarrel over the it.
It may not be the most pleasant process, but the matter of who gets the ring will then have to be settled privately.
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