The engagement ring is a circle representing everlasting love, placed on the fourth finger of the left hand’s ‘vein of love’ which flows directly to one’s heart, indicating to all who gaze upon it that its wearer is no longer among the single and non-committed. On the other hand, it’s a piece of jewelry. Either way, its value can be rather definitively established immediately upon divorce! It is an impossible task to imagine the spectrum of long-term relationships that dissolve on a regular basis along with the individuals that comprise them. Yet, legally speaking, there is always precedent. Just imagine the break-up that led to it!
Most states will consider the notion of fault when an engagement is broken off. If one partner has been unfaithful during the engagement period, he or she forfeits ownership of the ring. One would think that courts would prefer to avoid opening up Pandora’ s Box and delving into the messy and personal elements. After all, the reasons for the break-up could be emotional, financial, familial, etc. Yet, this ‘fault rule’ is still the majority rule.
The state of New Jersey does not follow the ‘fault rule’. There is no deliberation on who did what during the engagement period. Instead, two simple questions are asked:
1. Was the ring provided in anticipation of a wedding?
2. Did the wedding take place?
There you have it. Two questions answered and the fate of the ring is decided. It is a conditional gift, plain and simple. The emotional, financial or familial reasons do not factor. In the case of Aronow v. Silver, the Superior Court of New Jersey did away with the majority rule. The case involved a tumultuous, but all too common scenario. The engagement was broken a number of times, culminating in the wedding being called off only days before the big date. This freed all parties from having to dig up a whole lot of dirt that probably hadn’t even settled yet. Why relive a painful period and play the blame game?
The ‘conditional gift’ idea premise holds up in its pragmatism. Who caused the engagement to end does not trump who gave the ring to whom. The process is certainly streamlined but getting on the right path will still require navigation from an objective party. If you have any questions, please contact this office.
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Before going forward with any divorce, even if you think that it is uncontested or if you have any questions, please contact this office.