An Engagement Ring is not a Gift
By Helga Hayse on December 03, 2012
Did you know that 26 percent of all engagements occur at Çhristmas time? Tucked right in there with all the excitement, stress and partying of the holiday season, a man and woman decide to commit their future to each other.
Let’s take off the rose colored glasses and look at what an engagement ring is really about. It’s not a gift, like jewelry or a cashmere sweater. It’s the beginning of a commitment to a contract that is fulfilled when you marry. If you decide not to marry, you are breaking that commitment and you have to return the ring.
Seems obvious, right? Well, who gets to keep the ring depends on where you live.
Most states treat engagement rings as ‘conditional gifts given in contemplation of marriage’. If you’re not going through with it for any reason, whether you call it off, or your fiancée does, you have to give the ring back.
In California, considered to be an ‘implied conditional’ state, if the man breaks the engagement, he won’t get the ring back. If he doesn’t break the engagement, he can ask for it back. Maybe he’ll get it, maybe not, but he can go to court to try.
In Montana, an engagement ring is considered to be an unconditional, completed gift. You don’t have to give it back and there’s nothing he can do about it.
Whether you return the ring , or you get to keep it, I feel sorry for the poor guy who may be paying for years on a ring that loses more than half its value the minute he buys it. (A diamond, like a car, is worth a lot less when you try to resell it.)It doesn’t seem fair in this day of gender equality that a man should go into debt to prove his love.
Engagement is a two-way street. I believe that couples should exchange engagement rings that they both can afford. It would be interesting to know if the biggest engagement rings resulted in the happiest marriages. Meanwhile, check the law in your state…unless you live in Montana.
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