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Pennsylvania Engagement Gifts

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Our Pittsburgh Family Lawyers are often asked “what happens to an engagement ring if a wedding is called off?” The answer varies depending on what state you live in. It is a question of whether the court applies an analysis of who is at fault for the cancellation of the engagement

In Pennsylvania, where we have no-fault divorce, we have no-fault engagement ring return. In 1999, in the case of Lindh v. Surman, 742 A.2d 643 (Pa. 1999),the Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined that an engagement ring is considered to be a conditional gift, the receipt of which is conditioned upon the marriage occurring. Therefore, if the marriage does not occur, then the person who initially gave the engagement ring to the other party, has the right to reclaim the engagement ring. The important factor in Pennsylvania’s rule on this matter is that because the controlling law is based on no-fault return of the ring, the donor will have the right to reclaim the ring regardless of who broke up the engagement. The rationale behind this is to prevent the court from having to involve itself in the minute details of the engagement for the purpose of assigning fault.

Ultimately, fault was removed from the equation in Pennsylvania, and the ring has to be returned regardless of fault if the marriage does not occur. However, once the parties become married, the required condition will have been satisfied and the engagement ring becomes a gift between spouses, which means that the ring becomes marital property to which both parties have a joint claim of ownership (Unless there is a valid prenuptial agreement between the parties designating ownership of the ring).

Many other states apply a fault-principle in regards to this issue. This means that some other states’ courts will consider who is at fault in breaking up an engagement and upon making a determination of who is it fault, the court may award the ring to the party not at fault. If the ring donor (the person offering the ring for engagement) is at fault for ending the engagement, they lose their right to reclaim the ring. Conversely, if the party receiving the ring is at fault for ending the engagement, the gift-giver has a right to reclaim the ring.If you have questions about engagement rings, gifts in contemplation of marriage, or prenuptial agreements, talk to our Pennsylvania Family Lawyers today!

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Pennsylvania Office Locations

Allegheny County – Main Office

Manor Building, Penthouse Suite
564 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Phone: 412-281-9906
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Washington County:

2400 Ansys Dr., Suite 102
Canonsburg, PA 15317
Phone: 724-436-5500
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Butler County Law Office

2009 Mackenzie Way, Suite 184
Cranberry Township, PA 16066
Phone: 724-776-9906
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Clearfield County Law Office

Lisa Marie Vari & Associates, P.C.
114 1/2 S. Second Street
Clearfield, PA 16830
Phone: 814-290-0587
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Allegheny County – Main Office

Manor Building, Penthouse Suite 564 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Phone: 412-281-9906
Get Directions

Washington County Office

2400 Ansys Dr., Suite 102 Canonsburg, PA 15317
Phone: 724-436-5500
Get Directions

Butler County Law Office

2009 Mackenzie Way, Suite 184 Cranberry Township, PA 16066
Phone: 724-776-9906
Get Directions

Clearfield County Law Office

Lisa Marie Vari & Associates, P.C. 114 1/2 S. Second StreetClearfield, PA 16830
Phone: 814-290-0587
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Miami-Dade County

1200 Brickell Avenue, Suite 1950
Miami, FL 33131
Phone: 305-222-7351
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1200 Brickell Avenue, Suite 1950
Miami, FL 33131
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