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Who gets the engagement ring following a divorce in Missouri?

Often, the definitive symbol of a marriage, an engagement not only holds sentimental value, but often holds significant monetary value as well. This is especially true for high profile and wealthy couples, where the value of the ring can reach hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in value. So, what happens to the ring while a married couple is in the process of a Missouri divorce and is divvying up their marital property?

The answer is not back and white, but varies depending on the court. The court will consider a few factors when making its decision. The court may consider the engagement ring as a gift or a conditional gift. Like any gift, the court will define the gift if the giver intends to give it as a gift, the giver physically gives the gift to the receiver and the receiver accepts it as a gift.

When this is determined, the court generally allows the receiver to keep the gift. But, it is not that simple. Courts often consider the ring as a conditional gift, and how an engagement or marriage is broken may be the deciding factor in who keeps the gift following the broken relationship.

A conditional gift requires that a condition or agreement be maintained between the gift giver and the recipient; in this case, devotion to the relationship and marriage. When a vow or condition is not met, the condition is broken, and therefore, the ring will go back to the giver. Most states follow this philosophy.

Some states adapted the "No Fault" policy, making the decision automatic. The ring goes back to the giver.

There are many factors to consider in a complex divorce. Creating a simple and straightforward rule regarding the engagement ring allows both parties and the courts to focus on other divorce-related matters.

Source: FindLaw.com, "What Happens to the Engagement Ring in a Broken Engagement?," accessed on Feb. 16, 2016

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Joseph J. Porzenski
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