The Engagement Ring

Engagement Ring?


Should You Give It Back? Should You Ask For It Back?

An engagement ring given to the wife before the marriage is the non-marital property. [Wilen v. Wilen, 61 Md. App. 337 (198 ). In Benkin v. Benkin , 71 Md. App. 191 (1987) the Court not only held that an engagement ring given to Wife before the marriage was non-marital property, but also  directed that the trial court award the ring to Mrs. Benkin.

However:  that was followed by In Re Stoltz, [A bankruptcy Court applying State law] BR 842 Bankr.D.MD 2002 where  it was determined that the engagement ring  of the debtor was a a gift in contemplation of marriage and, there-for,  a conditional gift (at 846)

Then came Ver Brycke v Ver Brycke, 379 Md. 699 (2004) - which said that in some instances, a donor may limit a gift to a particular purpose and, by doing so,  make  it so conditioned and dependent on an anticipated state of facts that when those facts fail to occur, the gift should also fail. The right of the donor to recover the gift depends on the failure of the condition. In this case, the "gift" was a $200,000 contribution from husband’s  parents to a young couple, but the principle is the same.

So the quandary continues.  Best advice—If you are giving your betrothed an engagement ring that is a family heirloom, make clear in a written document (Letter, agreement, email etc.) that it is subject to the condition, and that if the marriage does not occur, you want it returned. [ And I know you are saying, “Yeah” “You bet”…….but “Yeah”,  “You bet”.]

See Helpful iLnks

"In re Stoltz, 283 BR 842 (2002), citing Grossman v. Greenstein, 161 Md. 71, Judge Schneider states that the right of a disappointed fiance to recover possession of an engagement ring given in contemplation of marriage is good law based on MD's recognition of the right of a donor to recover a conditional gift.  However, that is a bankruptcy case and not binding authority"

But "According to Judge Fader, an engagement ring given to the wife before the marriage is the nonmarital property of the wife, citing Wilen v. Wilen, 61 md. App. 337 @ 347-48."  Of course, this case deals with a situation in which the marriage has in fact taken place.


Broken engagement of same sex couple.  Is the engagement ring recoverable?  

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