Washington, DC asked in Civil Litigation, Contracts and Gov & Administrative Law for Maryland

Q: If the fiance (giver of the engagement ring) cheat before marriage can the fiance (receiver of the engagement) keep it?

Wouldn't this be a breach of the proposal/contract?

1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: In Maryland, the law views an engagement ring as a "conditional gift" for which marriage is the condition. If the condition is not met, then the recipient must give back the ring, and the giver of the ring is restored ownership. This is different than the usual effect of an unconditional gift, whereby a pure gift is deemed complete upon giving, and ownership passes to the recipient with no right of the giver to reclaim ownership afterwards. If the recipient of the engagement ring refuses to return the ring when the marriage is called off, then the giver may file a "replevin" action seeking its return, or the fair market value if the ring has been disposed of already. This action would generally be filed in the District Court. If the parties actually get married, then the condition is satisfied, and the gift becomes complete and is not treated as marital property in the event of divorce, but is considered the sole pre-marital property of the recipient.

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