Making the decision to end a marriage or break off an engagement will inevitably lead to a number of personal, emotional and financial consequences.
In the middle of the different issues that require attention during this time, a common question is about the ownership of engagement and wedding rings. In circumstances where the ring might be especially valuable or might have sentimental value as an heirloom that was passed down, it can be a big deal as to who is the rightful owner following the separation.
Many might suggest that common politeness and etiquette says that the ring should be given back to the party who purchased it after the end of the marriage or engagement.
However, in Ontario there is no legal obligation to return a ring – it is seen as a gift and the one who receives the ring is given ownership.
Though there is no law in Canada that dictates the proper procedure for ring ownership after a broken engagement, the ring is typically seen as a symbol of contractual obligation. If the bride-to-be breaks off the engagement the ring should be returned.
On the other hand, if the groom-to-be initiates the breakup, the bride-to-be may have an argument to keep the ring on grounds that the groom is in breach of the verbal contract to marry.
It is possible to decide to go to court to try to reclaim a ring after a separation. This may be the case if the ring is extremely valuable, or if there is strong sentimental significance – otherwise, the cost of a trial will outweigh the value of most rings.
For more information specific to your personal situation and to find if you should pursue or defend your rights to ownership of an engagement or wedding ring, consult with Epstein & Associates. Our experienced legal team has worked through many diverse family law cases, which gives us the professionalism and expertise required to protect your interests.