So, you bought the ring. It is a very nice ring. In fact, you decided to spend even more on it than you originally planned because knew it was the right decision.
You bought the tickets to the Redhawks game. You wait for the sound of the plane coming closer with the banner flapping behind it saying: “Will you marry me, babe?” before you cue up the mariachi band. You wait for the plane to be clearly in her sight before you pop the question. Of course, she says “YES!”
Fast forward six months. You are sitting at Oxbow planning your wedding meal. You just left Bed Bath & Beyond where you spent three hours creating your wedding registry. Fun, right? Yet, all you can think about is how you can’t stand the person sitting next to you i.e., the person with whom you are supposed to spend the-rest-of-your-life.
Fast forward another month. You worked up the courage to break off the engagement the best way you know-how — through a very thoughtful text message. You hit send. Whew. It’s done. You are free, you think.
But then you realize it. Uh oh. She still has that super duper expensive ring on her finger. How do you get it back? Can you get it back?
In many states, an engagement ring is a conditional gift, returnable if the engagement is broken without justification by the ring purchaser or terminated by consent and, sometimes, irrespective of fault. In some states, a specific statute has actually been put in place governing the return of gifts made in contemplation of a marriage that does not take place.
Such is not the case in North Dakota; not explicitly, at least. However, in the scant case law regarding this topic, it appears as though North Dakota Courts would apply the “gift statute” to this situation. This statute basically says that if there is an intention on the part of the giver to “relinquish the right of dominion” of the ring to the recipient, and the giver delivers the ring to the recipient, that gift is irrevocable.
In other words, if you give your fiance a ring with the intention that it will be hers, which would typically be the case when proposing, it will more than likely belong to her if you break off the engagement in North Dakota.
Note that the outcome may be different in North Dakota if you cohabitate for a significant period of time. In this regard, there is the possibility a person can “partition” the assets held during the cohabitation if, among other things, there was an intention to own the assets jointly during the cohabitation.
The bottom line is that the result, like with most legal issues, varies greatly depending on the facts of your particular case. If you have recently broken off your engagement or are planning on sending that break-up text soon, you should consult an attorney regarding the future ownership of the engagement ring.
Here at SW&L Attorneys in Fargo, ND, we are happy to discuss this issue, or any other family law issue you may have with you. You can reach our Family Law Team at 701-297-2890 or send us an email below.
The information contained in this article and on this website is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.