The wedding is cancelled: Do I have to give back the ring?

16 Jul 2019

Your fiancé calling off the wedding or, worse still, being jilted at the altar is every bride’s worst nightmare. Taking the difficult decision to back out yourself is no picnic either.

The guests have been told, the venue, the catering and the honeymoon have been cancelled. The dust has settled but do you have to give back the ring?

These days the average cost of an engagement ring is £1080 but with received wisdom being that the spend should be close to three month’s salary, there will be many who splash out even more.

Lisa Pepper, London divorce solicitor at Osbornes Law is often asked by clients whether they are obliged to return the ring after a break-up.

Lisa says, “The question of whether you are legally entitled to keep your engagement ring after a break-up is dependent upon whether it can be proved that you were expected to give it back if the marriage did not end up taking place.

“Expecting a bride who gets cold feet to hand back the ring seems fairly reasonable, demanding a jilted bride gives the ring back seems somewhat unjust. The law, however, does not make a distinction between the two.”

The law states that an engagement ring is presumed to be an absolute gift to the receiver unless it can be proved that the ring was given on the condition, express or implied, that it would be returned if the wedding was cancelled.

In practice, this situation is most likely to arise when the engagement ring is a family heirloom. Lisa explains, “If the ring has been passed down through generations of the groom’s family, provided he can prove that then the ring would have to be returned. The same rules apply to any gifts exchanged between engaged couples in the run up to the wedding.”

After marriage, different rules apply. Jewellery can be a battleground in divorce proceedings, especially if the value is significant in comparison to the overall assets set to be divided up.

Lisa says, “Generally unless it can be demonstrated that jewellery was expressly intended to be returned in the event of divorce, a woman’s jewellery is hers to keep. If there are sentimental items or family heirlooms that one spouse wishes to keep in the event of a relationship breakdown, it’s recommended these are covered by a pre-nuptial agreement.”

Share this article

Insights from our London Divorce LawyersVIEW ALL

  1. court of appeal
    10.8.2021

    Beneficial Interest in Property

    The Court of Appeal provides further clarification on interests in property Andrew Watson, a London based divorce lawyer in our ...

    Read more
  2. 27.4.2021

    What does divorce in your 60s...

    The rise of ‘silver separators’ The latest divorce figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that divorce is...

    Read more
  3. father and son
    11.3.2021

    Financial responsibilities of father on divorce

    What are the financial responsibilities of a father on divorce? The period drama Bridgerton, the runaway success of the winter,...

    Read more
  4. 24.2.2021

    Welfare of Child Remains Priority for...

    If press reports are to be believed, the Kim Kardashian /Kanye West split will not lead to a custody battle...

    Read more
  5. 18.2.2021

    Tax implications for divorcing couples

    As the end of the Stamp Duty holiday looms on 31 March 2021, that is not the only deadline that separating and...

    Read more
  6. 16.2.2021

    Divorce and the Family Home

    What happens to the family house in a divorce? For separating and divorcing couples, the family home is often the...

    Read more

VIEW ALL