Broken Engagement: Does She Have to Return the Ring

When you accepted his proposal, you considered yourself the happiest girl alive. The ring he presented you with put stars in your eyes. But perhaps somewhere along the line things went wrong, and you realized you couldn't marry him. In the case of a broken engagement, the question on everyone's mind might be, does she have to return the ring?

Unless your fiance specifically stated that he doesn't want the ring back, keeping an engagement ring would be in bad taste on your part. The ring was a symbol of love and commitment, and when that commitment has been broken, the ring has lost its true meaning. How can you wear a ring that is now a constant reminder of a love that failed?

Even though the ring was a gift and gifts are not usually returned, an engagement ring is a conditional gift. When you accepted the ring you promised to marry him. In the case of a broken engagement, that promise was never finalized, thus the gift should be returned.

Pawning the ring would be equally bad. Depending upon the size and quality of the diamond engagement ring, the cost would have put your ex-fiance several thousand dollars out of pocket. If you are the one causing the broken engagement, shouldn't he be given the opportunity to recoup his money?

Some may argue that if the woman broke off the engagement, she should indeed return the ring; but, if the man is the cause of the broken engagement, she is entitled to keep the ring. This type of reasoning may seem cut and dry, but what if there were underlying reasons for him to break off the engagement? He may have caught her cheating. He may have discovered a dirty secret she kept from him.

If the matter cannot be resolved between the two parties and it is decided to go to court, neither party can be sure about the judge's ruling. Some courts lean toward a no-fault approach. Meaning, they don't care who did what and why, the ring has to be returned.

Courts that don't apply the no-fault approach may find that an engagement ring implies an upcoming marriage. In other words, it is a conditional gift. If the marriage is no longer an upcoming event then the ring should go back to the giver.

In the end the question of, "does she return the ring" is not only a matter of good taste, but it's also a case of good will. If you are the one causing the broken engagement, let your conscience be your guide as to whether or not you return the ring, even if you feel you are justified keeping it. You might want to ask yourself; do you really want an engagement ring with bad memories attached to it?

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