Broken Engagements: Who Gets the Ring?
Broken Engagements: Who Gets the Ring?
Broken Engagements 1
Arthur Branch
Business Law: Professor
September 10, 2007
Case Study: Broken Engagements: Who Gets The Ring?
Broken Engagements 2
Last night my wife and I were discussing the consequences of a broken engagement. She told me that when she was getting her under grad degree in Business Management, one of her courses was Business Law. There was a case study in the text which referenced broken engagements. The main question was, if a man proposes to a woman and she accepts, with all intentions of the couple marrying, if the woman calls off the engagement what happens to the ring? My thoughts are if a man proposes and the woman calls off the engagement prior to getting married, then she must return the ring.

My wife’s point of view was it depends on the reason for the woman calling off the engagement and the location (residence) of the couple. If she called off the engagement due to cold feet, she fell out of love, or she just wanted a new piece of jewelry, then she should have to return the ring without discussion. However, if the man was caught or admitted to cheating or fondling another woman or other women, then she thinks that the woman has every right to keep the ring. As far as residence is concerned, that’s pretty important because different states have different laws.

However my wife and I both agree that we believed that an engagement ring is a conditional item, meaning the wedding ring is given to the “proposed” by the “proposee” with the condition of the couple being wed. Meaning the man is proposing to the woman with the understanding that once she has that ring on her finger, the two of them will unite and be one. If it never reaches that point, then the condition was never met and in theory the ring has to be returned.

In the eyes of the law that could be looked upon as a gift however there was an intention behind the gift which was marriage. To help clarify any misconception between

Broken Engagements 3
my wife and I, I decided to do my research on broken engagements. I was reading the article “Broken Engagements-Who Keeps the Ring” and it appears that my wife and I were both on the same track. The article suggests that an engagement ring is a gift made in contemplation of marriage. That is, the gift is conditioned upon the marriage actually taking place. If the marriage takes place, the condition is satisfied, and the woman is permitted to keep the ring. Conversely, if the marriage does not occur, the would-be-bride must return the ring (

Mr. Daniel Clement, the attorney who represented the man in this case explained that this wasn’t your traditional proposal case, where the man proposes, the woman accepts and then she breaks the engagement, the ring is returned to the man and everyone lives happily ever after. What happened in this case was the husband-to-be was still married, so by law, he could not propose to another person legally. The condition for giving the ring cannot be satisfied. Therefore, the woman is entitled to retain the purported gift made in contemplation of marriage even if the parties never wed.

Now to further add insult to injury, the man was actually divorced one month prior to proposing to the woman. However in Massachusetts, the divorce does not become absolute until the passage of some time, unlike New York, were you are free to marry as soon as the divorce judgment had been entered. So although the man took all the necessary steps to ensure that he had done everything correctly, he still got the short end of the stick because of Massachusetts strict guidelines.

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To conclude the moral of this case, it would be do not become engaged unless and until you are legally divorced. But in hindsight, this was probably the best results that could of happened for the husband-to-be, because it’s clear that the marriage wouldn’t survive since the wife-to-be’s number one goal was to get a large valuable diamond engagement ring!

Now that was a case where the man, in my opinion, got screwed. I was able to find information where the same question was being asked however the results were totally different. Replaying the discussion between my wife and me, she wasn’t too far off. After reading another article titled “Broken

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Case Study And Mr. Daniel Clement. (April 3, 2021). Retrieved from