Broken engagement -- who gets the ring in New York State?

engagement ringNo doubt many people will be getting engaged today with hopes of a long, happy life together. But what seems like a great idea this Valentine's Day... sometimes doesn't seem so great by next Valentine's Day.

So, you decide to go your separate ways. But who gets the ring? It turns out New York State actually has laws about these situations. (Of course, we have laws for everything here.)

A state law enacted in 1935 basically says that you can't sue someone for backing out of an engagement. But a 1965 addition to that law (that would be New York Civil Rights Law Section 80-b), gave ring-givers the right to ask for the ring back. (Or, as the law puts it, "Nothing in this article contained shall be construed to bar a right of action for the recovery of a chattel." Who says there isn't romance in the law?) That law, along with various court cases, has made engagement rings in New York State conditional gifts governed by "no-fault" rules. That means if the engagement doesn't result in marriage -- the ring goes back to the giver. Even if the recipient skips out to another state.

But, wait, there's more. If the ring-giver was still married when he or she proposed, the ring is no longer a conditional gift -- it's just a regular gift. And those don't have to be returned. (There was actually a case, Marshall v. Cassano, where this was decided.)

So, the short story in New York State...
+ Broken engagement where both people weren't married at the time of the proposal: ring goes back to the giver.
+ Broken engagement where the giver was still married: good luck with that.

Not that you'll ever need to know any of this.

Happy Valentine's Day.

photo by Flickr user Rose Davies, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license

Comments

I have a question about this law when both parties are married. It seems as though Marshall, being the male has broken off the engagement and Cassano keeps the ring.

How would it work of both parties were married and Cassano, being the female broke off the engagement. Would she then be entitled to still keep the ring by law or have to return it?

Not a lawyer, as they say, but my read is that it's the status of the giver that determines whether it's a gift or not -- the status of the recipient doesn't matter. So it's as the story said -- if the giver is married, it's not a conditional gift and need not be returned.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

"Man, @#$% Bon Jovi!"

There are a bunch of interesting threads that intersect in situation surround the impending sale of the Buffalo Bills: culture, identity, Buffalo's future, Andrew Cuomo.... (more)

Casinos 5 years from now? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

A Time Warner Cable News/Siena College Poll out this week asked people in the upstate regions being considered for casinos to predict five years from... (more)

Info sessions on new CDTA smart cards and mobile payments

Pay by mobile phone to ride the bus? CDTA isn't there, yet -- but it hopes to be by next year. This week the transit... (more)

Morning Blend

In Buffalo Monday, Andrew Cuomo pushed back -- he was "feisty and unrepentant", in the NYT's words -- on the accusations that his administration had... (more)

Architecture gawking in Albany's warehouse district

The recently announced project to develop plans for reusing a handful of historic industrial buildings around the Capital Region -- and specifically, a very early... (more)

Recent Comments

I think part of the outrage is a manifestation of the guilt felt by the crowd that refuses to recognize any part of Troy that isn't glossy, groomed, or hipsterfied or threatens that image. I love Troy. I've invested in Troy. But I'm not blind that there is a caste system in Troy. ...

Greulich's Market checks out

...has 3 comments, most recently from Johnh

Architecture gawking in Albany's warehouse district

...has 2 comments, most recently from Andy

Info sessions on new CDTA smart cards and mobile payments

...has 1 comment, most recently from Paula

Reaction to the reaction

...has 3 comments, most recently from CAOD

Along the cheese trail

...has 1 comment, most recently from Ryan