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Text moves judge to let ex-fiancée keep the engagement ring

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2014 | Property Division

What you say can be repeated, but what you write can be used against you. It’s a warning that applies in many situations, especially ones involving the law. When it comes to family law matters, individuals should use caution when using the technology available today. Photos and statements made via text message, email or social media could find their way into family disputes.

In some instances, these written statements could do more than help bolster an argument. A text message was the basis of a recent ruling that more often than not would have gone the other way in a typical case in that jurisdiction. This ruling involved a property division question that occurs before the marriage ever takes place. If you haven’t guessed, we are talking about the engagement ring.

In many jurisdictions, the engagement ring is seen as the consideration for the promise to wed under a contractual argument. When a couple splits, the engagement ring is often returned to the giver. That was the common result in this jurisdiction, that is, until the judge took into consideration the text message sent by the soon-to-be husband.

By way of a text message, the fiancé told his would-be wife that he no longer wanted to get married to her. A lot of people may criticize this choice, but it wasn’t the message that caused the trouble. “Plus you get a $50,000 parting ring. Enough for a down payment on a house,” were the words that gave substance to the ex-fiancée’s argument.

The fact that the man called it a “parting ring” swayed the judge into determining that it was no longer consideration but instead a gift. A later text message threat declaring that if the woman continued her actions, he would “take back the ring as well,” only solidified for the judge the man’s “donative intent.”

This exact case was heard in New York, and our readers may wonder if it would be the same result in Ohio. The answer in most of these cases is that it depends, which is why having a family law attorney prepared to handle any unexpected or even unprecedented issue that could arise is so important.

Source: The Buffalo News, “Judge rules jilted woman can keep $53,000 diamond engagement ring,” Patrick Lakamp, April 5, 2014