Engagement Rings: Who Gets to Keep it in Maryland?

Many of us can relate to the inordinate amount of time shopping for the perfect engagement ring. There is so much pressure involved in choosing the ring as it seems to symbolize more than just the intention to marry your special someone.

Whether we like it or not, in many cases the engagement ring is seen as a measure of success and wealth on the part of the ring-giver. Sometimes, the engagement ring is viewed as a reflection of how highly the ring-giver esteems and cherishes the ring recipient. Personally, I think it’s a lot of “hog wash” designed to get people to spend a lot of their hard earned money even before the “I do’s” are said.

Now if you have ever watched “Judge Judy” you probably have seen her tackle the question of what happens to the engagement ring if the engagement falls apart and the couple never marries. Well, this week’s question explores what happens to the engagement ring once the marriage has soured and the couple decides to divorce.

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Question: Is an engagement ring considered “marital property“?

Answer: Generally speaking, it is not. Typically, engagement rings are given prior to the marriage and are considered to be gifts by one party to the other in contemplation of marriage. Upon divorce, the engagement ring would generally be excluded from marital property division. However, a wedding ring would be treated differently by Maryland courts.

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As with all things related to marriage, do not let your emotions trick you into making an impulsive decision. The consequences can be costly. Make sure that your greatest investments in the marriage are your, love, patience, commitment and fidelity — not your money on the engagement ring purchased long before the marriage begins.

Cynthia Hawkins Clark regularly posts to this blog, her “What’s on Your Mind Wednesday” blogs which address questions we are frequently asked by our clients.