What happens to the rings when you divorce your spouse?

On Behalf of | May 27, 2022 | Divorce

Engagement and wedding rings play an oversized role in marital traditions in the U.S. Not only do these rings signify love and commitment, but they also often have considerable value. In fact, according to reporting from NBC News, the average proposer spent nearly $6,000 on the engagement ring alone in 2019.

Whether you treasure your engagement and wedding rings or simply want them for their resale value, you may wonder what happens to the rings when you divorce your spouse. Unlike in many other states, California has a statute that specifically addresses the matter.

California law

In the Golden State, the person who gives the ring to the other typically gets it back after a divorce. This is because engagement and wedding rings are conditional gifts, with the condition being the marriage.

There is an exception to this general rule, of course. Specifically, if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse cannot come up with an acceptable agreement about the rings, a court may decide what to do with them. The court has some options, including the following:

  • Return the ring to its original gifter
  • Give the original gifter the monetary value of the ring
  • Give the original gifter something of equal, greater or lesser value

Property division and no-fault divorce

California takes a no-fault approach to divorce, so it is unlikely a court would use your spouse’s bad actions as a reason to deviate from the statute. Nevertheless, if you have a pre- or postnuptial agreement that speaks to your wedding and engagement rings, you may have to do what it says.

Ultimately, whether you want to keep or part with your rings, it may be beneficial to discuss them outside of court during your settlement negotiations.

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