If We Call Off the Wedding, Does the Fiancee Get to Keep the Engagement Ring?

engagement rings - are they a really a gift?  Do you ever have to give them back?

Engagement rings, and other "gifts in contemplation of marriage" are not gifts in the traditional sense.  Rather, in the legal context, they are part of a contract to get married.  The contract works like this: He asks you to marry him and offers you the ring as "consideration" (which is like payment under a contract) for going through with the marriage.  You agree to go through with the marriage and take the ring as "consideration".  However, if you do not go through with the ceremony, then the contract is not completed and you are no longer entitled to the ring.  Further, it does not matter whose fault it was that the wedding did not take place.  See section 33 of Ontario's Marriages Act.


There are lots of other things to think about before you get married. For more ways your heart can get you into legal trouble, listen to this podcast.  For some more information about the legal and financial obligations of marriage watch this video.  To make sure your marriage is what you expect it to be, you may want a marriage contract.  See this page on how to have an enforceable marriage contract.

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Famly Law - an easy to understand book to help with separation, divorce, family court, mediation, arbitration and child welfare

For more information about family law questions, including everything you should know about family law before you get married and what you can do with a marriage contract, get a copy of this easy-to-understand $20 book on Ontario Family Law.

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© John P. Schuman 2014