Community Property Laws and Wedding Rings


The issue of who gets to keep the engagement and wedding rings after a Pasadena divorce comes up quite often.

Even though the traditional standard of spending two month's salary on a woman's engagement ring has faded from popularity, most rings still cost a considerable amount of money. The average price of a diamond engagement ring from a jewelry store is between $3,500 and $4,000, with many rings selling for $10,000 or more. So, it's understandable that a man might want the ring returned to him if the marriage doesn't work out.

However, it's important to keep in mind that engagement and wedding rings are not considered community property. Engagement and wedding rings are gifts from one spouse to the other. They belong solely to the person who received them, regardless of their monetary value.

Sometimes a woman will return her engagement and wedding rings because she doesn't want to keep them or because she doesn't feel morally right about keeping them. This is completely optional. If she needs money for living expenses or divorce related legal fees, she is within her rights to sell the rings.

If a couple has a child together, they may mutually decide to save the rings for their child. The rings can be left as is or melted down to make a special keepsake necklace or bracelet. If this approach is taken, there is usually some sort of language in the divorce settlement that prevents either spouse from selling the rings at a later date.

The rules change a bit if the couple never marries, however. An engagement ring is a conditional gift that is given with the expectation that the couple will eventually marry. If the engagement is called off, California uses the conditional gift with fault considerations test to decide who keeps the ring. If the woman calls off the engagement, she must return the ring. If the man calls off the engagement, the woman can keep the ring because she bears no responsibility for failing to go through with the wedding.

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If you are in need of legal representation during your divorce, please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at Our matrimonial law firm in Pasadena can provide the assistance you need to move on to the next chapter of your life.