With this ring…
For many people, February is the month of romance, because Valentine’s Day is right in the middle of it. Cards, roses, champagne, maybe even a proposal of marriage. So this month, the expert lawyers at the Group’s specialist family law practice McAlister Family Law are looking at all the issues that surround engagement and marriage, starting with the engagement ring.
The engagement ring is special. There’s a lot of nonsense talked about how much it should cost – that’s an entirely personal decision – but what is important is what it symbolises: a promise between two people of the intention to marry.
Sometimes the ring is a family heirloom, handed down from one generation to the next. Sometimes the couple buy it together. Sometimes the proposal is entirely planned between the two people concerned, for others it comes as a complete surprise to one of them. But if, once all the excitement has died down, and after consideration, one half of an engaged couple decides to call off the wedding, what happens to the engagement ring?
Do I have to return the engagement ring?
The Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1970 states:
“The gift of an engagement ring shall be presumed to be an absolute gift; this presumption may be rebutted by proving that the ring was given on the condition, express or implied, that it should be returned if the marriage did not take place for any reason.”
This means that the gift of an engagement ring is presumed to be just that – an absolute gift. However, where an engagement ring is, for example, a family heirloom, and if it can be shown that the gift was made on condition that it would be returned if the marriage does not take place, then the ring should be returned.