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Are Wedding and Engagement Rings Marital Property?

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According to WeddingWire, the average cost of an engagement ring is over $4,700. They determined this amount after analyzing the cost of engagement rings for 6,000 couples, according to Bustle.com. According to an Emory University study, the larger the amount spent on an engagement ring is actually associated with a higher divorce rate. The study discovered that people who spent between $2,000 and $4,000 on a ring were 1.3 times more likely to get divorced than men who spent between $500 and $2,000. Furthermore, those who spent in excess of $20,000 on a ring were 3.5 times more likely to be divorced than those who spent between $5,000 and $10,000. 

Higher Cost Means Hotly Contested Issue During Divorce

Considering the amount of money spent on engagement and wedding rings, the issue of whether rings are marital property subject to equitable division has become a hotly contested issue during a divorce. The spouse who purchased the engagement ring may think that they have a right to have it returned to them, especially if the marriage was brief in tenure. 

Texas Courts Generally Do Not View Rings as Marital Property

In Texas, divorce courts generally view engagement rings as a gift from one spouse to another as opposed to marital property shared between the spouses. Some courts have even held that an engagement ending before the couple were legally married does not change the status of the ring as a gift. Courts go through a three-prong analysis to determine whether an engagement ring was an irrevocable gift. Those three prongs include:

  1. Intent – You intended to give the ring as a gift to the other party;
  2. Delivery – You physically gave the ring to the other party; and
  3. Acceptance – The other party expressly accepted the ring.

If this 3-prong analysis is satisfied, the ring is considered a gift and deemed irrevocable. This means you would have no legal right to reclaim the ring. 

Rings May Become Point of Contention During Property Division Negotiations

There is more flexibility between the divorcing parties during property division negotiations, which is why engagement and wedding rings are often raised as a point of contention. The spouse who purchased the ring may be open to giving up other property or assets in exchange for the ring being returned. For example, if the engagement ring was a family heirloom, you could argue that the ring holds sentimental value and should be returned. If your spouse is not persuaded, you could agree to give up another asset (e.g., an account, a piece of artwork, home goods, etc.) in exchange for the engagement ring. 

Speak to a Houston Divorce Lawyer Today

As you can see, the issue of an engagement ring can become a major issue when trying to finalize a divorce. You should have the guidance and wisdom of an experienced attorney on your side. Working with a Houston divorce lawyer at Conner & Lindamood, P.C. will ensure you receive that guidance and counsel. Our firm is comprised of trial lawyers ready to take your case to court, if necessary. Our reputation is based on our extensive litigation experience and success in the courtroom. Contact our office to schedule a consultation and discuss your legal options.

Resources:

papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2501480

bustle.com/articles/144926-this-is-the-average-cost-of-an-engagement-ring

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