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It’s my annual Public Service Announcement about engagement rings. Open your social media page and you will surely see lots of engagements around the holidays. But lovers beware and be aware—if an engagement ends without a resulting marriage, the ring must be returned to the proposer, regardless of who was on the naughty list. So, even if you find mommy kissing Santa Claus, she still has to return it. Fault has nothing to do with who gets to keep the engagement ring in New Jersey because it is a “conditional gift”. The condition? An eventual marriage. No marriage=no engagement ring.

I would say this rule is as black and white as Santa’s boots and beard, but that is not exactly true; in fact, it might actually be better to give five golden rings than one big engagement ring during the holiday season. If you get down on one knee to propose on a gift-giving holiday, you may end up on both knees begging for the ring back if the engagement ends. If the proposee (I know, it’s not a word…just go with it) wants to keep the ring, he or she could  allege that the engagement ring was intended as an UNconditional gift—no “I do” required—since it was given on a traditional gift-giving holiday. Who knows if the ring recipient would ultimately be successful making that claim because as always, it would depend on the facts surrounding the engagement (or lack thereof).

In lieu of giving a big, ho-ho-honking engagement ring during the holiday season, here are some ideas if you are looking to give an unconditional gift:

                       Twelve drummers drumming
                       Eleven pipers piping
                       Ten lords a-leaping
                       Nine ladies dancing
                       Eight maids a-milking
                       Seven swans a-swimming
                       Six geese a-laying
                       Five golden rings
                       Four calling birds
                       Three French hens
                       Two turtle doves
                       Partridge in a pear tree

The Family Law department at Cooper Levenson is a full-service department that has many years of experience representing clients in matters of divorce, custody, support, domestic violence, prenuptial agreements, grandparent visitation, and other family law issues. We are here to help.

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