If you are going through a divorce, you may have wondered what happens with the engagement and wedding ring. This question is raised often if the engagement ring was very expensive or a family heirloom.
If you have questions about what happens to your engagement ring after divorce, the knowledgeable lawyers at O’Connor Family Law can provide answers and guidance through the asset division process.
Marital Property and Separate Property
It is vital to distinguish between marital and separate property when considering the division of assets during a divorce. Marital property is gained by either party while they remain married, such as vehicles, retirement accounts, and real estate. Separate property refers to assets that were obtained by either spouse before the marital union.
Everything you own is subject to division during a divorce. If the two parties cannot agree on how to divide things, the Court will. Generally, the Court will split marital property fairly equally unless there are factors that would make a 50/50 split inequitable. The Court, depending upon the length of your marriage, could look at the property that you individually brought into the marriage as separate property and give that to the person who brought it in.
There’s a slight caveat here though – gifts, even those given during the marriage, can be considered individual property and may not be divisible during a divorce.
Is an Engagement Ring Considered Marital Property?
Typically, an engagement ring is not considered marital property to be divisible. The Court will often look at the engagement ring as a gift that was given in anticipation of a wedding, which obviously took place or you wouldn’t be going through a divorce.
However, if it was a fairly short marriage and a fairly expensive ring, the Court could either order it to be sold and to split the proceeds or for the spouse who is keeping the ring to credit the other spouse within the final property distribution.
If the engagement ring was a family heirloom, then the Court can look at it a little differently than a simple gift. The best way to protect your heirloom ring is to enter into a prenuptial agreement stating what happens if the relationship terminates, but if you’re reading this, it’s probably too late for that. Some couples will agree to keep the ring for one of their children to pass on. In other cases, a Court can order that it be returned to the family it came from.
Is a Wedding Ring Considered Marital Property?
Very similar to the engagement ring, a wedding ring will usually just be kept by the person who received it. Same as the exceptions with the engagement ring as discussed previously, there could be reasons why it might be ordered to be returned.
What about an Engagement Ring That Was Upgraded during the Marriage?
Many people are not in the financial position to purchase a huge engagement ring for their significant other at the time of the engagement. For some, that ring is sentimental, no matter how large or small it is. For others, they want to upgrade that ring just as you would update cars as you do better financially as time passes. This is where things can get tricky.
If the updated ring is given as a gift, then it will likely remain the property of the receiver, regardless of the amount that was spent on it. However, if it was upgraded because that’s what you jointly agreed to do, then you should be able to get half of its value back during the divorce.
Remember that the resale value of that diamond is not likely going to be the same as what was paid for it. It’s important to weigh out the pros and cons of what it would cost to go after half of the value to make sure it’s worth it. Sometimes emotional battles can be very expensive.
Talk to Our Attorneys if You Have Questions about What Happens to Your Engagement Ring or Wedding Band after Divorce
Navigating the divorce process without experienced legal assistance can be extremely difficult. Fortunately, our knowledgeable team can answer your legal questions and help you prepare for each stage of the divorce process, including the division of marital assets such as engagement rings and wedding bands. There are many factors that may affect how assets are divided between you and your former spouse, so it is important to have skilled legal assistance by your side every step of the way.
O’Connor Family Law can work hard to protect your rights and achieve the fair settlement you may be owed while reducing as much of your stress as possible. For more information about what happens to the engagement or wedding ring after divorce, contact our firm today.