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Who Keeps the Ring?

Lee and Kelly had been living together for three years when Lee finally took the advice of Beyonce and “put a ring on it”. Kelly was ecstatic at the 1 carat of diamond and gold brilliance she now had sitting on her ring finger. She immediately got out the wedding folder she’d been storing bridal magazine cuttings in anticipation of this moment. Together, they went on to spend many week ends visiting potential wedding venues, booking caterers and deciding on invitations and table settings.

The wedding plans were all going swimmingly until one day, Lee announced to Kelly that the wedding couldn't go ahead. Lee now had feelings for someone he had met on their indoor netball team and was having serious questions about getting married!

Lee and Kelly were ultimately able to agree on how to divide most of their property except when it came to the issue of the engagement ring. To buy it, Lee had used up a personal investment from prior to their relationship so surely the ring should be returned or at least Kelly should pay for it? Kelly, on the other hand, felt the ring was hers and that given Lee was the one to cancel the wedding, Lee shouldn’t add insult to injury and expect to keep the ring as well.

So what does the law say? Who keeps the ring when a couple separate? Under our relationship property laws, gifts made to a partner for their use alone is the separate property of the recipient. A gift of jewellery will usually be the separate property of the recipient. Thus, unfortunately for Lee (who is no longer taking advice from Beyonce), the engagement ring is Kelly's to keep – it doesn’t form part of their relationship property pool for equal division.

Names and any identifying information have been altered to protect the privacy of individuals. The information in this blog is current at 1 May 2022. The information in this blog is general, educative information only. As such, it should not be relied on in place of getting your own legal advice. If you'd like to have us assist you with your own property questions, then book a free consultation now.

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