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What can you do with an heirloom ring during divorce?

On Behalf of | Aug 21, 2023 | Property Division |

When you married, you really thought it was forever – and so did your spouse, obviously. When they proposed, they gifted you an heirloom engagement ring that they inherited from a grandmother.

You’ve worn it for a very long time, but now that you’re getting divorced, your spouse wants the ring back. How do you navigate this situation? Here are some tips:

Legally, the ring is likely yours to keep

Unless you signed a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that addresses the disposition of the ring in a divorce, Connecticut case law is on your side. An engagement ring is treated as a “conditional” gift. It’s given on the condition that you go through with the marriage – which you did. That means that you aren’t legally bound to give it back to your spouse if the marriage doesn’t work out. That puts you on solid footing if you feel entitled to the ring, which may be particularly justified if you were married for a long time and you plan to pass the ring on to one of your children.

Financially, it may be better to trade it for something else

From a purely practical perspective, it’s always wise to remember that you have something your spouse wants – and their emotional attachment to that ring may be worth more than the ring itself. You should consider viewing the ring as a bargaining chip during the negotiations surrounding the division of the marital property, especially if you don’t think you will continue wearing the ring after the divorce. You may be able to basically trade the ring for something else of significant financial value (or, at least, something you really want).

A lot of the divorce process surrounds how to divide up everything a couple has accumulated over the years, and some of the most complicated discussions can include things that involve sentimental value. Refusing to negotiate about a family heirloom can make your divorce unnecessarily antagonistic, but it’s really up to you to decide how you want to proceed. Seeking experienced legal guidance can help you decide if you should keep the ring or use it as leverage to obtain an alternative concession from your spouse.