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Who gets the Ring?

Who Gets the Engagement and Wedding Rings?

In Wisconsin, the proposal, giving of a ring and the answer are parts of a contract to get married. If the marriage never happens, the party that was given the ring must give it back. What is interesting is that Wisconsin law has clarified that it doesn’t matter who calls off the wedding. The Courts relied on the principal that in the event of a divorce, Wisconsin is a “No-Fault” state, meaning the reasoning behind the dissolve of the marriage is immaterial to the issues addressed in a divorce. They translated this principal to the break-off of an engagement. If the party who proposed and gave the engagement ring calls it off, they get the ring back. If the party who said “Yes!” calls it off, they must return the ring.

If the parties do get married and then find themselves going through a divorce, the rings are considered “marital property” and are subject to division just like all other property. If one party wants to keep the rings, they will have to “buy out” the other party. If neither party wants the rings, the parties can sell them and divide the proceeds.

Many people confuse the rings as “gifts” and thus not subject to division in a divorce action. This used to be accurate, but the law has changed to expressly state that gifts given between spouses are subject to the presumption of equal division in the event of a divorce or legal separation.

Contact our experience family law attorneys to learn more about property division in the event of a break up or divorce.