Previously engaged individuals may wonder who legally owns an engagement ring according to Nevada law. A breakup can be very painful and confusing. However, the law should not be confusing. If someone states that they intend to “keep the engagement ring,” you should know what the law will allow.
Engagement Ring Law
When an engagement ring is offered to an individual along with a marriage proposal, the ring is considered a conditional gift. With conditional gifts, the giver offers a gift with the expectation that some future event will take place (i.e. marriage). When the event (or marriage) does not occur the gift giver has the legal right to get the gift back.
If the marriage occurs and the couple consequently calls it quits through divorce or annulment, even days later, the ring is then property of the holder since the condition of marriage was met.
Applying the Engagement Ring Rules
There are other circumstances where the engagement ring may be kept. For example, if the ring was offered as a form of compensation or to pay off a debt then the engagement ring would no longer be considered a conditional gift.
There are some interesting circumstances that can occur if you are following this rule. For example, in the article below, a New York judge just ruled that the gift of an engagement ring does not need to be returned. The reasoning was that the gift of the ring was not accompanied with a proposal for marriage. Without the marriage proposal, the ring was merely a gift and not a gift that was conditional upon marriage. You can read more below.
Matt Pfau is an attorney and founding partner at the law firm Parry & Pfau. Matt has a background in business consulting, estate planning, business start-ups and bankruptcy and is licensed to practice in both Nevada and California. A partner in the firm Parry & Pfau, he can be reached at 702-912-4451 or firstname.lastname@example.org.