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Who Owns the Wedding and/or Engagement Rings?

Aside from custody, perhaps the most contentious point in a divorce is the division of property. It is not always applicable to sell the properties and divide the amount. 

One of the more sensitive points is a symbol of the marriage itself—the wedding ring. Since it is a symbol of their union and each ex-spouse has one of them, it is a valid question to ask: is there a legal edict on which spouse should get the wedding ring or the engagement ring? 

The Engagement or Wedding Ring as Property

The state of Texas upholds the principle of community property. Thus, all property acquired by the couple will still be part of the conjugal estate. Even those they bought as individuals or earned as part of their individual success. All this will be part of the division process. 

Who Calls Off the Engagement?

However, an engagement ring is a conditional gift. For the engagement ring, there is a condition that it will only be given if the marriage is consummated. For the one receiving the ring, saying “yes” to the proposal is an agreement to the marriage. 

If the recipient eventually declines or calls off the engagement for whatever reason, the condition is not met. In this case, the ring should legally revert to the possession of the giver. 

There is a difference when it is the giver who calls off the engagement. In this case, if the engagement ring is offered and already accepted. The recipient gets to keep the ring if the giver is the one who calls off the marriage. This is because the recipient has fulfilled his or her part of the bargain. In consequence, he or she has the right to keep the gift. 

This is different from any other gifts given in the pre-wedding relationship. The recipient gets to keep those.

The Wedding Ring After a Divorce

For the wedding ring, the promise is to stay together until death do they part. In case of a divorce, that means there is a breach of the promise. However, Texas law dictates that since the marriage has been fulfilled, the ring is already the property of the recipient. 

However, there are exceptions.

If the ring given is a family heirloom passed on through generations, then the ring can be returned to the one who offered. If there is a claim from any side and it is proven that the ring is a true heirloom, the judge can make the ruling in favor of the side which has a deeper sentimental attachment to the ring. 

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at

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