There’s etiquette, there’s ethics and then there’s the law.
When a couple’s engagement ends, does the woman have to return the ring to her former fiancé?
Virginia trial courts are split but the latest word from Richmond Circuit Court is no, then yes.
That is, Richmond Circuit Court Judge Melvin Hughes initially rejected the jilted lover’s demand for the ring, then changed his mind. Upon further reflection, Hughes said in Hicks v. Jordan that the plaintiff proved the ring was “a gift made in contemplation of marriage and as such, is conditional.
“Upon breach of the engagement to be married, the property may be recovered by the donor,” Hughes said on June 16.
In 2006, a Newport News Circuit Court said a man had no claim to a ring costing nearly $25,000. Judge Timothy Fisher reviewed circuit court decisions from Fairfax and Amherst Counties that allowed the claim. But he cast his lot with a 2005 Salem Circuit Court decision that rejected the claim.
The Richmond court based its decision for the man on a 1921 Missouri case cited with approval by the Supreme Court of Virginia in a 1941 case, Pretlow v. Pretlow.
By Deborah Elkins