The Gift that Isn’t a Gift: Loudoun County Circuit Court rules that ex-fiancée must return $46,646.00 engagement ring

February 6th, 2015 by JBWK

Zsa Zsa Gabor once said, “I never hated a man enough to give him his diamonds back.” Apparently, the defendant in a recent Loudoun County Circuit Court case agrees. With a price tag of $46,646.00, who can blame her?

In the case of Peter v. Langley, the Court followed the majority of U.S. jurisdictions and ruled that an ex-fiancée who broke off the relationship must give back the engagement ring because it was a “gift made in contemplation of marriage.” While Virginia Code § 8.01-220 (affectionately referred to as the “Heart Balm Act”) prohibits a suit for damages arising out of a broken promise to marry, that does not limit one’s ability to recover possession of conditional gifts.

In other words, if you get engaged and your fiancée backs out before the wedding, you may be able to recover gifts that were given upon the condition that you would get married (e.g. the engagement ring), but could not sue for the humiliation and mental anguish arising from the break-up.

The Court’s opinion is available here:
http://valawyersweekly.com/2014/11/06/she-said-i-will-i-wont-i-want-the-ring/

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