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Who gets the Diamond Ring?

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When getting a divorce, who gets to keep the diamond engagement/wedding ring? When a couple are engaged and do not get married, in Wisconsin, the law is the ring gets returned to the person who bought it, irrespective of who broke off the engagement. The ring must be returned. What happens in a divorce case?

All property acquired either before or during the marriage is subject to equal property division at the time of the divorce. The only property exempt is property acquired from a third party as a gift or inheritance. Inter-spousal gifts are not exempt from property division. They are part of the marital estate. So what happens to the diamond ring?

  1. One party can keep the ring, subject to paying the other 1/2 of the current value. The ring can be appraised by a jeweler to determine the value and if the ring by example is worth, $5,000, if they wish to keep the ring, they either have to pay $2,500 to their spouse or use other property to compensate for the 1/2 value in the ring.
  2. The ring can be sold. The parties can agree to sell the ring or place on consignment with a jeweler, with the parties agreeing upon sale, to split the net sale proceeds 50/50, less any consignment or broker fees associated in selling the ring off.

I know many will think the ring is a “gift” and the person should be allowed to keep it. I understand the logic and sentiment, but it runs contrary to the law. I have been practicing law enough to tell you that the law has flip-flopped over the years. At one point, under Wisconsin’s property division statute, gifts between the spouses were exempt from property division. Under the old law, the person would have been able to keep the ring without charge. That’s not the law anymore and has not been the law for many years. Now, the law is the opposite. The statute  (s. 767.61) specifically states that inter-spousal gifts are subject to property division and are not exempt from property division. That may be unfair to the person who has the ring, but that is the current state of the law in Wisconsin.

If you have questions on property division when going through a divorce in the state of Wisconsin, contact the experienced family lawyers at Karp &  Iancu, S.C. today.

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