NEW YORK: Christopher Reinhold v. Colette DiPierro – dispute over $17,500 engagement ring

Should  Colette DiPierro return the engagement ring to her ex-fiance Christopher Reinhold? I think yes.  Here in New York, as we have posted ad museum, an engagement ring is a conditional gift. The condition subsequent condition precedent (case law says it’s a condition subsequent, but I really see this as condition precedent– i.e., marriage must precede the passage of title to the ring over to Colette vs in the case of a condition subsequent we’re saying that a marriage has to occur after the ring is given in order for title to pass to Colette) is that a marriage will take place after the engagement at some time in the future, at which time the ring either becomes her separate property, or, depending on the value, becomes the marital property to be split among the married couple. If the condition of marriage is not fulfilled, then the ring remains the sole property of the giver and has to be returned pursuant to New York law, unless there was some kind of fraud on the part of the giver of the ring….In this case, Colette allegedly broke up with Christopher. The condition precedent (the marriage) did not happen and so title to that ring did not vest in the receiver of the ring. No marriage will come from the engagement. Therefore, that ring is not hers to keep. Title to that property lies with Christopher (if she can show he gave it to her on Christmas or Valentine’s or something, then maybe she can prove it was a regular gift and not an engagement ring, i.e, conditional gift; but that will be tough). Even if they had married, because of the value of the ring, it probably would never have been Colette’s alone. It would have been viewed as “marital property.” Although, the New York courts are split on this. Some have said it is separate property and others have said it is marital. But if the marriage never happened, the ring is definitely Christopher’s and Colette needs to return it, or the equivalent value.
Go here for how to get your engagement ring back after a divorce.
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