It is no secret that marriage engagements don’t always work out. Currently, there is no reliable figure on how many engagements end in termination. One small study found that 20% of engagements are terminated. However, the reliability of the study can easily be called into question because only 1,000 people were polled and the study hasn’t been replicated. Regardless, rings aren’t cheap, so you’re probably wondering if you can get one back.
Can I Get The Ring Back If We Don’t Get Married?
It’s possible! The Minnesota Court of Appeals has found that an engagement ring is a conditional gift. See Benassi v. Back & Neck Pain Clinic, Inc., 629 N.W.2d 475 (Minn. Ct. App. 2001). This simply means, in Minnesota, that an engagement ring is a piece of property that is gifted with an express purpose (i.e., marriage) that must be fulfilled; otherwise, the gift might need to be returned. Id. In deciding the issue, Minnesota elected the minority approach. Id. The minority approach refuses to attribute fault as to why the purpose (i.e., marriage) did not occur. Id. at 484. The majority approach would have taken into consideration why the purpose (i.e., marriage) did not occur and made a determination. Id. Put simply, under the minority approach you must marry in order for the ring to become your property. Under the majority approach, the Court may or may not require the return of the ring with regard to the circumstances.
This is interesting to consider because the case itself demonstrates that the husband engaged in several bad acts that made the condition of marriage impossible for the wife, yet the Court required her to return the ring to the husband. Id. at 485. The Court’s reasoning was “. . . because the Minnesota legislature has adopted no-fault marriage dissolution law on the grounds of public policy, and has abolished civil actions based upon alleged alienation of affections, criminal conversation, seduction, and breach of contract to marry as against public policy, it is consistent for this court to adopt a no-fault approach to the return of an engagement ring.” Id. at 486.