Rules Of Engagement: Who Keeps The Ring If You Separate?

Rules Of Engagement: Who Keeps The Ring If You Separate? - Resolve Conflict Family Lawyers

A question all engaged and married couples hope they will never have to ask, however who does keep the engagement ring if you separate?

Historically in Australia, the Courts took the view that if the engagement ring was given in contemplation of marriage and if the marriage did not then proceed, then the ring giver was entitled to the return of the engagement ring.

However, in our modern society where many couples are in a de facto relationship and/or live together prior to marriage, the matter of who keeps the engagement ring at separation is no longer as straight forward.

The law with respect to engagement rings can be considered in the following circumstances:

  1. Couples that become engaged but do not live together before marriage (traditional engagement);
  2. Couples that live together for a significant period of time become engaged but don’t marry;
  3. Couples that get engaged, live together and then marry.

As previously mentioned couples nowadays usually live together prior to marriage or never marry and live as a de facto couple. This means that the question of who is entitled to the engagement ring on separation is depended on the following factors:

  • the value of the engagement ring;
  • the total value of the property pool;
  • the length of the parties’ relationship and/or marriage;
  • the financial and non-financial contributions made by each party during the relationship; and
  • each parties future needs as they emerge from the relationship following separation.

Related Article: Property Settlement and Divorce: Key Facts You Need To Know

As engagement rings generally hold significant sentimental value they are generally excluded from property settlement negotiations. However, if either party decided to raise the value of the ring within a property settlement, the engagement ring would be classed as property and added to the total value of the property pool, which is available to be divided between each party.

The value of an engagement ring for the purposes of a property settlement is the current second hand value, not the amount it was purchased for. If the value of the engagement ring cannot be agreed, it will necessary to have the ring valued by a licensed jewellery valuer.

The questions of who gets the engagement ring if you separate is clearly a complex question, with many possible answers depending on each circumstance.

Note: This is general information advice only and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you would like further information in relation to this matter or other legal matters, please contact us on 03 9620 0088 or email

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