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

Brew goes Pint Sized, plans second location (and a tiny bar)

Changes are coming to Brew, the popular beer/coffee shop on Lark Street. Owner August Rosa says he's changing the name to Pint Sized. And he's... (more)

Details for the As You Are Albany premiere

Here are the details for that special Albany premiere screening of As You Are, the Sundance prize-winning film that shot in this area in 2015...... (more)

Oprah speaking at Skidmore's commencement

Oprah Winfrey is set to be the speaker at this year's Skidmore commencement May 20 at SPAC. (See Skidmore News story.) The college will be... (more)

Morning Blend

Guilty verdict in Best murder After five hours of deliberations, a Schenectady jury convicted Bloods member Troy Saunders of first-degree murder, robbery and all other... (more)

How we all ended up talking about a gondola between downtown Albany and the train station

The concept of building a gondola or aerial tramway across the Hudson River from the Rensselaer Amtrak station to downtown Albany and the Empire State... (more)

Recent Comments

Trinity United Methodist on Lark and Lancaster is a very diverse and progressive church. About half of the congregation is white with the other half being from all different ethnic and racial backgrounds. There is a good mix of young and old, with many younger adults. It's a very accepting church for people who identify as lesbian or gay as well.

The untaxed city within the city

...has 35 comments, most recently from Herbert

How we all ended up talking about a gondola between downtown Albany and the train station

...has 6 comments, most recently from Rebecca

Examining the forces and maps that redlined the city of Albany

...has 17 comments, most recently from JayK

A progressive, friendly, diverse church?

...has 11 comments, most recently from Barbara Conner

Morning Blend for Feb 22

...has 1 comment, most recently from -R.