If an engagement is called off is the man entitled to the return of the engagement ring?

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If an engagement is called off is the man entitled to the return of the engagement ring?

I proposed to my ex on the day of her birthday. Things began to go badly in the relationship. Due to problems, I made the mistake of sleeping with another woman. Once I came clean to my ex, we were in the process of working things out. She ended up breaking things off with me and stated that she was going to mail me the ring back. The ring never arrived and then she stated that she would not be returning the ring. Can I get the ring back? The ring is worth $2000.

Asked on January 26, 2011 under Family Law, Texas

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

An engagement ring is a gift made in contemplation of marriage.  Accordingly, courts have held that the gift is conditioned upon the marriage actually taking place.   If the marriage takes place, the condition is satisfied, and the woman is permitted to keep the ring.   Conversely, if the marriage doesn't occur, the ring must be returned.  

Note:  It is generally accepted that if a man is already married, he cannot legally contract to wed. Therefore the condition for giving the ring cannot be satisfied so the woman is entitled to retain the ring as an outright gift.


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