Valentine's Day is popular with the romantic types and every year it seems like the couples try to one-up each other with plans and gifts. The day may also be a good day to propose to a loved one. California men get down on one knee in the most unique, awkward or lavish manner to propose marriage. The proposal itself if seen as a romantic gesture but it also sets off wedding plans and, of course, associated legal issues.
Experts agree that prior to proposing, the future groom should consider the legal consequences of a lifetime commitment such as marriage. Often, it is wise to consult a legal professional first to discuss a prenuptial agreement that may be beneficial in addressing certain concerns. One such concern is the question of who keeps the engagement ring if the engagement and the ensuing marriage end. The harsh reality is that a lot of couples go to court over the engagement ring.
Aside from everything else that a wedding symbolizes, it is also a legal contract that joins together the lives of two individuals and gives them certain legal protection, especially on financial matters. Engagement and wedding rings, as well as other jewelry, are considered marital financial assets.
In California, engagement rings are considered conditional gifts based on an agreement to marry. In the event of the engagement breaking up, the rule is that whoever ends the engagement must give the ring to the other person. If the break up is amicable, both people can reach a compromise on how to deal with the jewelry.
A prenuptial or a postnuptial agreement may quite helpful in such a situation. Once the couple marries, the ring becomes marital property. Without a legally recognized agreement to specify conditions on such assets, the court may order the couple to liquidate and split the proceeds or may encourage both people to reach an agreement on who keeps the ring.
A knowledgeable Orange County legal professional can provide more information on local laws governing marital gifts and other assets.
Source: WDTV.com, "The Legalities of Love: Who Keeps the Ring?" Feb. 27, 2013