An engagement of marriage is usually sealed with a ring. An engagement ring is meant to be a symbol of a couple’s intention to marry, but what happens to the ring when the marriage has fizzled and a couple decides to divorce? It’s not always a clear-cut answer and much depends upon the circumstances, the actual ring and the state in which the couple resides. New Jersey is an equitable distribution state in which a court will divide marital assets in a way it sees as fair and reasonable, which might not mean a 50/50 split, but marital property in the state excludes gifts, so what about that ring?
If a soon-to-be former couple can decide on what should happen to the ring, so much the better. But if the ring is a family heirloom and in a family for generations, it may be handled the way inheritances are handled — separate from marital assets, in which case it might be ordered to return the ring to the family the person who gifted it. But for the most part, an engagement ring is considered a gift in New Jersey, meaning it’s separate property. The laws of equitable division only apply to marital property, not separate property, so an engagement ring usually remains with the person who it was originally given to if the couple should divorce.
There are times when divorce might wreak financial havoc in a person’s life. The one who keeps the ring may want to sell it, depending upon its value. Or the ring might be handed down to a child of the marriage. In any event, it is best to speak with a lawyer regarding the items that might cause confusion when it comes to the distribution of assets.
A New Jersey divorce attorney is likely the best source of information when it comes to answering legal questions regarding assets and divorce. It may be prudent to get answers before making uninformed decisions or requests. A lawyer can provide clarification on things like what the options are for keeping items of value like engagement rings.