Can I keep the engagement ring after a breakup or divorce?

It depends on how skilled your lawyer is. There are bulldog divorce lawyers in New York who are very good at getting their female clients to keep the six figure, 20 carat engagement rings, even if the marriage(to the billioniare) never even happens. It’s delicious. See, what usually happens is, if the marriage doesn’t happen, you have to return the ring. That is because the ring is like a “promise to marry.” In other words, if marriage is a contract, the ring is a conditional contract. An engagement ring basically says, “you keep this on the condition that you marry me but you return it if you don’t.” That is how the New York Courts have basically seen this issue. If you breach the conditional contract, (or even if he breaches it) and no marriage results from the engagement, you forfeit the ring.
However, if you can show that the ring is really a “gift” and was not really an “engagement ring” you might have some room to maneuver. That’s the beautiful thing about the law. It is totally malleable. It’s just a question of semantics. And a skilled lawyer.
Of course, if you go through with the marriage, even if you ask for a divorce a week later, you keep the ring….well, normally you do.
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Originally published November 16, 2008