Who gets the ring?

Who gets the ring?

Maybe you did a Mariah Carey and sold the ring or a J-Lo and gave the ring back. It is an interesting question that is starting to gain momentum – who gets the ring when you break up?

In an earlier Australian case of Papathanasopoulous v Vacopoulos, a woman was given a $15,050 engagement ring from her fiancé and 10 days later she called off the engagement. She put the ring in a box with other sentimental mementos.

A few days later, not wanting to be reminded of him, she threw the ring in the bin. When he found out, he commenced family law proceedings.

The Court found the ring was a “conditional gift” which was given on the presumption that the marriage was to go ahead. She was found liable to account for the value of the ring (as a kind of “waste”) and was ordered to make a financial adjustment for the value of the ring.

In a nutshell, the interesting takeaway from this case is that basically if an engaged person suddenly ends the relationship, he/she must return the ring, if the one who provided the gift refuses to complete the marriage, he/she cannot then demand the return of the ring.

However, if the relationship is mutually ended, the ring and other items should be returned to the other party.

If you happen to make it down the aisle and then separate, then the ring could be treated as property and the rules afforded to the division of matrimonial assets under the Family Law Act may apply. 

All pieces of property are considered by value, and for personal items that means ‘second hand value’, the length of the relationship, each parties’ financial and non-financial contributions and their respective future needs are factors to be considered. 

If you would like further advice on property, please contact Bale Boshev to book an appointment with Ellie on 02 4969 1522.

Article by Ellie Sumner 


Ellie Sumner – Solicitor

Ellie practises in family law, wills and estate matters and has spent the last three years working in the North West and Newcastle and Hunter regions.

Ellie also has experience in worker’s compensation and personal injury.

Ellie makes regular appearances in the Family and Federal Circuit Courts of NSW at Newcastle

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