Who Gets the Ring?

Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth are the latest celebrities in a string of Hollywood broken engagements. This raises the question — when your betrothal ends, who gets the ring?

This issue is the subject of a recent Texas lawsuit where Buffalo Bills player Mario Williams sued his ex-fiancée, demanding the return of his $785,000 engagement ring. The lawsuit alleges that Erin Marzouki broke off the engagement and never had any intention of marrying Williams. Marzouki filed a counter-suit accusing Williams of having a history of cold feet and breaking off the engagement himself. Marzouki alleges that Williams made it clear in text messages to her father and her brother that he wanted her to keep the ring after their last breakup. In July, the case took an interesting turn when the judge ordered Williams’ attorneys to turn over his cell phone, financial, and medical records to Marzouki’s attorneys.

The Texas case will be an interesting case to follow and it, along with the Miley Cyrus breakup, raises the question: When a Florida engagement is broken, who gets the ring?

Florida courts usually consider an engagement ring to be a conditional gift in contemplation of marriage. This means that if the future event (the marriage) doesn’t occur, the gift isn’t final. In other words, if the wedding doesn’t happen, the ring should be returned. If the breakup is mutual, this most certainly will be the result.

However, it is possible that a Florida court may examine fault for the breakup in determining whether the ring should be returned. If the ring giver had the change of heart, it might be possible to successfully present facts to persuade a judge to rule in favor of the jilted fiancée and let her keep the ring. However, most courts will consider the ring to be a conditional gift of marriage and rule that it should be returned if the marriage doesn’t take place.

If you are either seeking to keep an engagement ring or get one back after a broken engagement, working with a knowledgeable Pinellas County family law attorney will help you obtain relief you desire.