Zuba & Associates, P.C.

Dividing physical assets in divorce depends on state

The subject of what happens to an engagement ring if a marriage dissolves is the topic of some debate. Some Illinois residents who have experienced divorce will say that ownership of the ring should revert to the husband, while others argue the wife should be allowed to keep it. Division of marital assets, especially ones given in good faith, can be deeply problematic for divorcing couples. It may be beneficial to seek outside support when dividing up physical property.

If a wedding is called off before being put on the books, it may be possible for ownership of an engagement ring to be successfully argued in favor of the man. In most cases, however, an engagement ring is considered a gift and is therefore deemed to have transferred ownership. However, how this issue is dealt with depends largely on the state in which the couple lives.

As a general rule, most states presume the engagement ring to be a pre-marriage gift, which means it falls under the category of pre-marital assets and the wife is the legal owner. However, certain exceptions may be made. For example, if the ring is a family heirloom donated by the husband's family, he may have some legal precedent to request it back.

As with most things, education is the key to a successful marriage and a successful divorce. Illinois residents who are thinking about marriage should understand ahead of time the laws as they pertain to property ownership. This foreknowledge can help smooth the road if the marriage winds up breaking down. The more arguments that can be avoided at the negotiation table, the faster and more efficient the divorce process will be.

Source: Huffington Post, Give Me My Ring Back! (Who Gets the Wedding Rings in a Divorce?), Natalie Gregg, Sept. 23, 2013

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