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Who gets the engagement ring in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts |

My ex and I lived together for 7 years and had a baby at the time the engagement ring was given to me. The relationship then deteriorated due to extensive substance abuse and lack of commitment by the donor of the ring, causing me, the donee, to break off the engagement. In the 2.5yrs since then, I have kept the ring and plan to use the money from it to either secure a permanent residence for myself and our son OR put the money into our son's college fund. The donor now wants the ring back. My lawyer says it is a gift and I should ignore him. What are the specifics of who is entitled to it?

Attorney Answers 2


  1. It is a gift but there's a lot more to it than that. It is actually a conditional gift - conditioned on marriage. In Massachusetts, with your sets of facts, he is entitled to that ring back if he asks for it.

    Tell your attorney to read several cases that are on point: De Cicco v. Barker and Poirier v. Raad.


  2. The law in Mass depends on the intent of the donor and, when someone gives a ring at the time of engagement, it is presume that the gift was conditional upon getting married. So, based on the facts you state, he is legally entitled to get it back. However, how much is it worth? Does he owe you for child support? Does he owe you money for other things? If he owes you money, I would hold on to it.