Here’s an interesting fact that you might not have known. When an engagement is broken, deciding who keeps an engagement ring can become a legal battle. The way the ring is distributed depends on how the court looks at the case. To view the ring as a gift, the giver must have intended it to be a gift, must have given the ring to the other party as a gift and the receiver must have accepted the gift. In most cases, even though the engagement doesn’t proceed, the ring stays with the receiver since it was a gift.
The problem may come with some courts when they determine that the ring is a conditional gift. A conditional gift is based on the idea that the gift is only meant to be given if certain terms are met. If the agreed on action — in this case, a wedding — doesn’t happen, the court could rule that the ring was conditional and give it back to the giver.
It can be argued that answering the proposal is the requirement to receiving the gift. This makes it more complicated, and potentially could cause more distress in an already stressful situation. In most western states, you may find that it’s more likely for the giver to receive the ring back instead of the other way around. This is because the engagement is only the contract, so to speak, while the condition to be met is the marriage itself.
If you find yourself in a heated argument over who should get the engagement ring in your case, you might want to speak with someone familiar with the laws in your state.
Source: FindLaw, “What Happens to the Engagement Ring in a Broken Engagement?” Oct. 23, 2014