San Diego family attorneys often hear this after an engagement goes bad. Sometimes it’s also raised as an issue during a divorce case. The treatment of this issue is different depending upon the circumstances.
For those who were only engaged, and did not marry, it’s possible to demand a return of the engagement ring. California Civil Code § 1590 provides as follows:
Where either party to a contemplated marriage in this State
makes a gift of money or property to the other on the basis or
assumption that the marriage will take place, in the event that the
donee refuses to enter into the marriage as contemplated or that it
is given up by mutual consent, the donor may recover such gift or
such part of its value as may, under all of the circumstances of the
case, be found by a court or jury to be just.
An engagement ring counts as a gift of property in the context of this statute. Here, the term “donee” is the person who received an engagement ring. What this means is that if you ask someone to marry you, and you give them a ring, but later they refuse to marry, then you can get your ring back. Similarly, if parties who are engaged to be married agree to call off the wedding, then the ring should be returned.
However, if you ask someone to marry you, and they accept, but you call off the wedding; then you may not be able to get the ring back.
For those people who are already married, engagement and wedding rings are generally treated by the courts as gifts from one party to the other. Under California law, gifts are the separate property of the person who received the gift. Consequently, if people do get married, then it’s very unlikely that rings will be returned.
Contact our firm to learn more about San Diego family law. Whether you are just thinking about getting married, or you are married and considering divorce, it makes sense to consult with a San Diego family attorney. Scott & Matteson Family Law is a Certified Family Law Specialist and he has been practicing in San Diego for more than 35 years. Please contact our office at 858-974-4900 to schedule a consultation appointment with Mr. Scott today.
 Simonian v. Donoian (1950) 96 Cal.App.2d 259.