May 24, 2021

Who Gets to Keep the Ring, Update

In my January 2021 post I explained how Connecticut courts deal with “Who Gets to Keep the Ring” if there is no marriage. A recent decision coming from the Superior Court in Stamford is consistent.

In the presence of family members and friends, Mr. L got down on his knee and placed a $44,500 two carat diamond ring on Ms. D’s finger. Ms. D and her two daughters wore white sundresses to the event, photos were taken, champagne was served and a party on the beach followed. Over the next two years Mr. L and Ms. D travelled together and Mr. L moved into Ms. D’s home. Mr. L asked Ms. D to marry him at least twice and she declined.

The couple’s romance eventually ended. Mr. L asked Ms. D to return the diamond ring. He argued that the ring was a gift conditioned on the couple marrying and since they didn’t, Ms. D had no right to keep the ring. Ms. D on the other hand, argued that she was entitled to keep the ring because it was an unconditional gift to her – the couple were never engaged, she had declined his proposals and in fact she never intended to marry Mr. L.

The focus of the trial became which party to believe – Mr. L that he and Ms. D by their statements and behavior were obviously planning on marrying or Ms. D that there was never any agreement to engage or marry. Ultimately, the court found Ms. D to be more credible and ruled in her favor. Since there was no agreement to marry, the ring could not have been conditioned upon marriage. Rather, it was an outright, although generous, and unconditional gift from one person to another person whom he loved.

Lewis v. Doria, 70 CLR270 (Genuario, Robert L., J.)

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