Diamonds Are… Conditional

January 16th, 2017 by JBWK


Submitted by Attorney Berkley D. Foltz

A decision has come down from the Supreme Court of Virginia which somewhat clears up the issue of whether the giver of an engagement ring may get the ring back if the marriage does not occur.  Prior to this decision, courts in Virginia inconsistently ruled on this issue.  However, the case of McGrath v. Dockendorf makes it clear that a suit brought under the theory that an engagement ring is a conditional gift will prevail.  In other words, an engagement ring may be viewed as a conditional gift which must be returned to the giver if the marriage does not occur.

The court makes it clear that the ring must be returned as it is property that was given as a condition upon marriage.  If the ring is no longer in the possession of the recipient, then the giver is entitled to receive the value of the ring.  In this case, the ring was worth $26,000.00 and so the giver was entitled to either the return of the ring or a judgment for $26,000.00.  This decision also states that property given in contemplation of marriage may be considered a conditional gift and thus the giver may be entitled to repossess the property or receive its value.  Thus, an engagement ring may not be the only item the giver could ask to have returned if the marriage does not occur.    

 This case sheds new light on an issue that has plagued jilted lovers for years.  It will be interesting to see if the courts will see a flood of these types of cases in the near future. 

BerkleyFoltz

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