February 5, 2015

Who Should Keep the Ring From a Broken Engagement? "I Do!" Says FindLaw.com Survey

EAGAN, Minn. – Left at the altar. Runaway brides. Grooms with cold feet. When a wedding engagement is broken off, it often leaves both hurt feelings and a leftover engagement ring. A big legal question then becomes: who should get to keep the ring? A new survey from FindLaw.com, the most popular legal information website, says both men and women agree – the person who gave the ring should get the ring back.

Seventy-eight percent of Americans feel the person who gave the engagement ring is entitled to keep it, if they want it. 

  • The person who gave the ring should get it back 78%
  • The person who received the ring should keep it 22%

Men and women are mostly in agreement, although women lean slightly more towards the receiver keeping the ring, while men lean slightly more towards the person who gave the ring. Somewhat surprisingly, there is also little difference in opinion between people who are single, married or divorced.

The law is slightly less clear on the matter. Court rulings have varied on whether an engagement ring is considered a conditional or unconditional gift.  Several states, including Iowa, Kansas, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, have adopted a “no-fault” approach and require rings to be returned to the giver in a broken engagement. But other states, such as Montana, classify the engagement ring as an unconditional gift and award the ring to the recipient.  

“For something as seemingly simple as an engagement ring, legal fights over a broken engagement can involve several different areas of the law,’” said Stephanie Rahlfs, attorney-editor at FindLaw.com. “Depending on the circumstances of the engagement and the breaking off of the engagement,  it can bring into play aspects of property law, contract law, and whether the ring is considered as a gift with conditions attached, or even as compensation for a broken engagement. Laws and court rulings have historically varied considerably by state. If a prospective bride or groom has any concerns before they slip that ring on the finger, it pays to check the laws where you live.”

Free information can be found on the FindLaw Marriage, Money and Property section at http://family.findlaw.com/marriage/marriage-money-property.html

The FindLaw.com survey was conducted using a demographically balanced survey of 1000 American adults and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percent.

Note to editors: Full survey results and analysis are available upon request.

FindLaw, part of Thomson Reuters, is a leading provider of business development solutions for small law firms. Through its team of legal marketing experts, FindLaw drives the industry by delivering a comprehensive portfolio of proven online and offline marketing solutions designed to connect law firms with targeted prospective clients. FindLaw is also home to the largest online directory of lawyers and FindLaw.com (www.FindLaw.com), the most popular legal website with more than seven million people visiting each month for free information about a legal topic, to solve a legal problem or to find a lawyer.

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Alex Cook 
Tel: +1 651 687 6319
Email: alex.cook@thomsonreuters.com