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

UPDATED: Jan 26, 2011

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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


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

Answered 12 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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