💍 Who the ring belongs to in NJ depends on whether the marriage ever occurs

💍 In NJ, rules of the ring do not take into account who's at fault

💍 Parties can still negotiate outside of the law

From state to state, the rules differ on who's legally in line to get the engagement ring in the event of a breakup.

In a number of states, fault is taken into account when determining who gets the ring after a couple splits. In some states, the value of the ring may be split in the event of a divorce.

What does NJ law say?

In New Jersey, the answer depends on when the couple decides to call it quits. And the answer does not change if one party is obviously the reason for the split.

The law in the Garden State says that the engagement ring is a conditional gift (the condition: the couple gets married).

Once a marriage is on the books, the ring becomes the property of the spouse who received it in the first place.

"Should that couple get divorced ... (the ring) will not be subject to equitable distribution going forward," said Bari Weinberger, owner and managing partner of Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group. "This means that the ring itself, or the value of the ring, won't be divided in any way."

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But if the marriage never occurs - aka, the original condition is never met — the gifter has the legal right to take the ring back.

The issue is a common one at Weinberger's firm. Oftentimes, the person who purchased the engagement ring wants it or its value back after a divorce, but that's not their right — even if the jewelry is a family heirloom.

"It does make sense to have a bright-line rule so that the parties don't become embroiled in litigation over an issue like this," Weinberger said.

Still, individuals have the ability to negotiate. A settlement agreement can give the ring or its value to either of the parties, but Weinberger notes that typically demands "compromise and open-mindedness."

The same "conditional" rules are followed in New York and Pennsylvania.

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