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Battle for engagement ring ends after man implies it’s a gift

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote a post about the complicated property division issues that can arise in a military divorce. For example, when a military divorce occurs, there are things like military pension, survivor benefits and other assets specific to military personnel that must be handled.

As twisted and complicated as things can get during property division — regardless of whether you are in the military or not — it’s unlikely that many San Antonio residents have dealt with the circumstances that one couple recently had to deal with. This story serves as an important reminder about what you say, and what is documented, about critical pieces of property.

A couple in New York was engaged to be married for 14 months. Then one day, the would-be husband told his would-be wife that it was time to call it quits. He didn’t do this in person though. He decided it was best to end their engagement via text. The woman was stunned, and then she received a follow-up text from her former fiance that said the engagement ring she was given was a “parting ring.” The language he used made it sound like the ring was now a gift for her.

That is central to a dispute this would-be-couple recently had. Apparently as the months passed since their breakup, the man became increasingly irritated with his ex and threatened to take the ring back. Eventually, he filed a lawsuit to get the ring back. By New York law, an engagement ring is actually symbolic for a contract of marriage. If the marriage doesn’t happen, then the contract has been broken and the ring giver is the owner.

However, the man lost his lawsuit — and the ring — because the way he worded that follow-up text made the ring into a gift, not a contract of marriage.

It’s a reminder of how bizarre property division issues can become, as well as a reminder to always check with you family law attorney regarding property division concerns and how state law applies to them.

Source: Buffalo News, “Judge rules jilted woman can keep $53,000 diamond engagement ring,” Patrick LaKamp, April 5, 2014

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