Each year, a number of young couples become engaged to be married. Unfortunately, not all of these engagements result in marriage, and some relationships dissolve prior to the wedding. In addition to the various painful and challenging obstacles that come as the result of ending a romantic relationship, couples are often faced with the dilemma of who will keep the engagement ring. Although statistics suggest that 78% of individuals in the United States think that the engagement ring giver should receive the ring back if the relationship ends, the law frequently reaches results that are contrary to public opinion.
Each state has unique answers on how to approach this issue, but the decision in many cases depends on whether the engagement ring is viewed as a gift or as a condition of marriage. In the state of North Dakota, there are few cases directly addressing how these issues should be decided. As a result, if you are involved in the termination of a romantic relationship, it can prove to be a wise idea to retain the assistance of a skilled attorney.
How North Dakota Treats Return of Engagement Ring Cases
There are few cases in which North Dakota courts have had to decide how to treat the return of wedding rings. In many of these cases, North Dakota courts have applied NDCC 47-11-08 concerning irrevocable gifts. This law states that a gift that is not a gift given in the proximity of a person’s death cannot later be revoked by the giver. As a result, if one person wants to give a ring to a future spouse, then that ring is viewed as an irrevocable gift and cannot be given back to the individual even if the relationship in question later terminates.
It should be noted that North Dakota is one of the few states that views engagement rings as unconditional gifts. Many states, including Minnesota, view engagement rings as a conditional gift that the giver provides to the receiver with the expectation that a future event (the wedding) will occur. If the agreed-upon event does not occur, then the person who is given the engagement ring must give the piece of jewelry back to the giver.
Exception to Engagement Rings as Unconditional Gifts
There are some noticeable exceptions to how the state of North Dakota decides engagement ring issues. If two individuals cohabitate for an extended period of time, there is a chance that the person who gave the engagement ring can have the jewelry returned if there was an intention to jointly own assets during cohabitation by the couple.
Consult with a Knowledgeable Family Lawyer
In short, there is no definite rule for how to view the return of engagement rings in North Dakota. Each case is likely to be significantly influenced by unique facts, which means that a skilled attorney can likely make all the difference in the outcome of a case. Tracy Lyson at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss is familiar with a variety of issues that can arise concerning family law cases and the return of engagement rings. Call Tracy at 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002.