Half of us think that gifts given between spouses should not be included in a divorce settlement, be it an engagement ring or car. Around the same proportion (53%) felt that gifts received from other people outside of the marriage should not be included in a settlement.
These findings highlight that for many people, a gift remains our own – no matter what happens later on in a marriage.
So, who gets the engagement ring?
The reality is that gifts, whether received from a spouse or anyone else, and no matter the sentimental attachment, are considered as part of the assets to be divided in an eventual settlement. Often in a settlement, an equivalent value will be attached to the item, and whichever person does not take the car (or Persian rug, or piece or art) will be compensated, for example through an additional cash settlement.
In fact, the only exception is for engagement rings. Current legislation states that the gift of an engagement ring shall be presumed to be an absolute gift which the recipient is entitled to keep, unless there was a written or oral agreement expressing the ring was gifted on a conditional basis. In some cases, a family heirloom might give rise to an implied condition that the ring would be returned upon the breakdown of the relationship. Therefore, unless the engagement ring is worth an extremely large sum, it does not need to be returned or compensated for.
What couples should bear in mind, especially when tensions are running high around division of shared property, is that it is rarely worth asking a Court to rule on who walks away with individual items or gifts because of the costs involved . A good solicitor will always attempt to help resolve these issues before it gets to court.
Jolene Hutchison, Head of Family and Divorce, remarks:
“From a financial point of view, it’s important to take a common sense approach when it comes to the division of gifts. It is far better to avoid having to go to Court over who will walk away with possessions gifted to you over the years.”