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-   -   Should she get her ring back? (http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=96490)

Sue 06 March 2018 02:35 PM

Should she get her ring back?
 
I know that traditionally the engagement ring is the groom's gift to the bride and is hers to keep (well that's the version I've always heard anyway) but what happens when the ring is a family heirloom? My cousin gave her son his grandmother's diamond engagement ring when he told her he was proposing to his girlfriend. All went smoothly up to the wedding but six months later and the happy couple are not happy anymore and the marriage is over.

Which leads to the ring. My cousin wants it back and the bride is saying "it's mine deal with it".

I don't know if it's worth all the drama that has ensued or if it would be worth getting lawyers involved but I am curious - what do you guys think? Bride or Mom - who should get to keep grandma's ring?

Lainie 06 March 2018 02:38 PM

IDK about law or etiquette, but IMO, family heirlooms should be an exception to that rule (which I otherwise agree with).

ETA: He may be out of luck legally because they actually got married. It seems in cases where the ring is returned, it's because the court considered the gift to be conditional upon marriage. Once that condition has been met, it's unlikely the ring will be returned to the giver.

Richard W 06 March 2018 02:43 PM

I say the bride gets to keep it (or at least, decide what to do with it). It was still a gift, and it can be an heirloom to her too. If that's the usual rule for engagement rings, I don't see why it should stop being the rule because there's extra sentimental value involved. Perhaps people should just be more careful how they treat things which have sentimental value...

GenYus234 06 March 2018 02:47 PM

IMS, it is generally legally considered a gift and therefor the ex-wife's property. Occasionally I think courts have considered it part of the pledge to marry and should be returned if the wedding is called off. But once they have wed, I don't think any court is going to say it has to be returned. I think she should return it to the family as it has a great deal of emotional value but I don't think it would be wrong to keep it, it would just be the nice thing to do to give it back.

DawnStorm 06 March 2018 02:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sue (Post 1973514)

Which leads to the ring. My cousin wants it back and the bride is saying "it's mine deal with it".

I'd say your cousin is NSFBK'd. Yes, giving the ring back is a nice thing to do as GenYus mentioned, but in my not-a-lawyer opinion, the now ex is not legally required to do so.

iskinner 06 March 2018 03:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DawnStorm (Post 1973527)
I'd say your cousin is NSFBK'd. Yes, giving the ring back is a nice thing to do as GenYus mentioned, but in my not-a-lawyer opinion, the now ex is not legally required to do so.

Not legally required, no, but with some good divorce legal advice it could probably be negotiated for. It would likely require some concession on the cousin's part. The question would be what it is worth to him.

dfresh 06 March 2018 03:14 PM

It belongs to the bride IMO, but she might be willing to entertain a cash offer from the mother, or make it a part of the divorce settlement.

Seaboe Muffinchucker 06 March 2018 03:28 PM

Look at this from her point of view--he gave her a beautiful ring while they were happy, one which welcomed her to the family and made her feel special. Then it all fell apart and now he's like "oh, the ring was just a loan and I want it back."

It's hers. He gave it to her. If he now has regrets, well, that's his problem--not hers.

Seaboe

Beachlife! 06 March 2018 04:32 PM

The ring belongs to her. I don't understand the logic behind using a family heirloom in this way, but it doesn't. He gave the ring in anticipation of marriage, they got married, it didn't work out. The fact that he gave her a ring he couldn't afford to lose is entirely his problem.

That said, it should be negotiable as part of the court settlement.

Lainie 06 March 2018 05:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Beachlife! (Post 1973559)
The ring belongs to her. I don't understand the logic behind using a family heirloom in this way, but it doesn't.

Did you unintentionally leave some words out of that second sentence?

Beachlife! 06 March 2018 05:30 PM

Yes, one word, 'matter'. It doesn't matter what I think about using heirlooms in this way.

Dr. Dave 06 March 2018 05:47 PM

I agree with almost everyone else on my understanding of the law (not a lawyer, just from reading). Personally I think that the classy thing for her to do would be to offer it back if a fair and reasonable exchange (cash) can be met. Why would she want to wear a ring from his family anyway? Of course she could take the stones and have them reset.

That said, if either she is not interested in an exchange or if the financial value of the ring is much more than he can afford, it's too bad.

If there is another family heirloom ring, assuming these people don't have a vault full of precious jewels, I suggest giving to to a. a female relative, b. on like a 20th wedding anniversary, or c. to a future granddaughter (or great niece).

Dr. Winston O'Boogie 06 March 2018 06:44 PM

I always thought that the polite rule was if the woman broke off the engagement, then she returned the ring; if the man broke off the engagement, she didn't have to.

Now, this is a divorce case, so that rule wouldn't apply anyway, but (unless he was a complete nfbsk), it certainly would go a long way to keeping things amiable in the divorce.

Plurabelle 06 March 2018 10:32 PM

I know the law generally says it's a gift, but I think it could go a lot of ways unless one or both of the partners are acting out of spite (which is often, I admit).

If it's an heirloom, I think you *should* give it back, but what if there are extenuating circumstances - like the recipient invested millions of dollars in their partner's hobby and is merely trying to recoup something vs what she invested? This is why we have lawyers and divorce/civil court.

This is mainly why I think we need to broaden the legal terms of marriage and partnership - people who share a life 10 years should have the same legal avenues as people who are married 2 years. Breakups are almost always messy, especially with shared assets. For me in Perfect World, deciding to share assets requires an agreement about this sort of thing.

On the other hand, gifts are usually given freely. I've never given a gift expecting it back unless it were a loan (people abusing loans, that's a totally other story). But you have to be completely certain what you want to give as a gift. Keys to your apartment are not a gift. They are part of an understanding. It's cute if you put it in a box, but not a gift.

Divorces and breakups can be ugly, and can they be simple and friendly, and they can be something in between.

I can't imagine wanting to keep an engagement ring my ex-so paid for and gave me unless I planned to sell it... I obviously wouldn't wear it, so why, unless out of spite? Which seems...silly. At worst, if I were hard up, I might ask for some reasonable compensation.

Sue 07 March 2018 02:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Plurabelle (Post 1973591)

I can't imagine wanting to keep an engagement ring my ex-so paid for and gave me unless I planned to sell it... I obviously wouldn't wear it, so why, unless out of spite? Which seems...silly. At worst, if I were hard up, I might ask for some reasonable compensation.

This is what bothers me too. If it had been a ring the husband had purchased and given her I don't think this would even be an issue, and I agree that she'd be well within her rights to keep it (and be very surprised if he asked for it back) but what would she do with it then? What do most women do? Keep it, sell it, regift it, hang on to it if there are children of the marriage to pass it on to -- lots of options. But likely wearing it, and certainly not treasuring it, are among those choices.

In this specific case she's keeping the ring, she had only for a very brief period of time, and she's doing so, IMO, totally out of spite. It's sad but honestly it reflects way more on her than anyone else. As long as my cousin can maintain the high road and not make this a huge issue. They asked for the ring back - they were refused - and I think they should let it go at this point and hope the bride has second thoughts when the first months of turmoil after the break up have passed. Of course the big concern is she's going to sell it and I agree with others that offering to buy it back - or make some concessions in the divorce settlement to sweeten the pot - might be a good idea.

Beachlife! 07 March 2018 03:59 PM

So giving the ring gives him the right to a 'take back' if things don't work out? That makes the giving of such a family heirloom into a hedged bet. Is that what he was doing, hedging his bet?

The thought behind such a gift is supposed to be that it has greater meaning because you are giving something that holds much greater 'value'. If he gave it expecting it back, he should have had her sign a prenup because his expectations clearly did not match hers.

You can blame her all you want, but she's not the one asking for a gift back. At the very least she is owed the value of the ring he would have given if he didn't decide to use a family heirloom as a way to ensure that his gift was never fully given.

St. Alia 07 March 2018 04:10 PM

What does he want to do with it? I'm just curious.

Sue 07 March 2018 04:55 PM

He doesn't want it at all. His mother does. It has meaning for her and she is regretting now that in trying to welcome the girl into the family she may have lost something that was special to her. I do agree that this was a risk she took in giving her son the ring to give his fiancee but there you go. I did ask her what she would have said or done had the marriage lasted longer than 6 months and she didn't have an answer. I suspect (but may be wrong) that it's the length of the marriage that bothers her here - that if they had made a go of things for longer that she wouldn't be as focused on getting the ring back. Still as has been noted, what's done is done, and the ring is no longer hers, whether she likes it or not.

Little Pink Pill 07 March 2018 09:10 PM

I’d want to give it back for the mother’s sake more than the husband’s. It was her mother’s ring. IMO that’s the right thing to do just as a human being.

If my husband had cheated on me or something, any presents he bought me I would consider mine no matter how long we’d been married. But a family heirloom means something to people outside that relationship.

Errata 07 March 2018 09:36 PM

It's her property, so she can decide. However, I doubt she has much positive sentimental attachment to it after such a brief marriage, so it's just a financial asset to her. If that's the case, the reasonable thing to do is to assign a reasonable value to it and account for that when splitting up assets. If her ring is worth $X, and the husband wants it back, he can take $X less of his share of any joint assets. So she isn't losing anything, but he gets back something that means more to his family. Not entirely as straightforward as it should be to arrive at that value, since there is a big disparity between jewelry's actual resale value, appraised value, and retail value, and since it's an heirloom it's not precisely identical to anything produced recently that could be used as a point of comparison. Also a young new couple might not have assets to deduct it from, but if so the mother could just straight up buy it for whatever she might get at a consignment shop.

The exception might be if the divorce was one-sided and she felt like she should give it back on her own, but since that's not what happened it's reasonable to assume it's more complicated than that.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Beachlife! (Post 1973559)
I don't understand the logic behind using a family heirloom in this way, but it doesn't.

What else are you going to do with a family engagement/wedding ring but use it for an engagement/wedding? Put it in a shrine? The mother probably wants to use it again in exactly the same way for some other relationship that will hopefully last longer.


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