Engagements, Like Marriages, Sometimes Break Down

The question in the case of a broken engagement is: Is a man who is given a woman an engagement ring entitled to the ring or its value if his fiancée subsequently breaks the engagement?

First a ring is a gift under Illinois law. However, it is a special kind of gift that comes with the condition that there be a subsequent marriage between the parties. If a fiancée who receives the ring fails to perform by completing the marriage, the ring goes back to the giver.

Well you may ask, what happens if it's a mutual decision not to get married? Does the fiancée keep the ring or does the giver of the get it back? Well, Illinois courts have actually answered this question and ruled that an engagement ring is a gift conditional on the subsequent marriage of the parties. When the condition is not fulfilled, the fiancee no longer has any right to the ring. [Vann vs. Vehrs, to 16 Ill App 3 649 (2d Dist.1994).] Most states follow this rule where there is a mutual decision not to marry.

In today's modern age, since there are now civil unions between same-sex couples, the question should be more properly stated as: Does a person who gives another person an engagement ring be entitled to which return if the fiancee subsequently breaks the engagement? The answer following the reasoning of the cases above: The giver indeed gets the ring back.

If you are in need of a knowledgeable family law attorney in Illinois, call the Hinsdale Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio at 630-920-8855 for a free consultation.

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