Ryan Family Law, P.C.
Ryan Family Law, P.C.

Elgin, Illinois

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Could an engagement ring complicate an Illinois divorce?

Couples share everything for years, and it can be hard to determine how to equitably divide the assets that they have acquired. Some property can pose particular challenges in a divorce because of how much money it is worth. Other assets will lead to conflict because they have emotional value.

An engagement ring exists at the intersection of those two issues. Engagement rings may be worth an entire month of someone’s salary, possibly more. They also represent someone’s commitment to a relationship. In some cases, people have very emotional reactions related to the jewelry exchanged as part of an engagement or wedding. As a result, it isn’t hard to see why a high-cost engagement ring could potentially complicate Illinois divorce negotiations.

There is a very clear rule for engagement rings in most cases

When couples divorce in Illinois, they have an obligation to divide their marital property. However, some assets are separate property and only belong to one spouse. Property owned prior to marriage is typically separate property.

Gifts, including engagement rings, are usually the separate property of the person who received the gift. In other words, in most marriages, the engagement ring remains the property of the spouse who received the ring regardless of why the couple divorces.

There are rare exceptions

Some couples file prenuptial agreements that address certain assets, possibly including engagement jewelry. When the ring is worth a particularly large amount of money, the spouses may agree that the recipient will return it unless the marriage lasts a certain amount of time, for example.

Other times, even if there isn’t a marital agreement, there might be a verbal agreement about the ring because it is a family heirloom. In such circumstances, one spouse may feel like it is worthwhile pursuing the right to keep the ring in divorce court or when negotiating the terms of a separation.

Making sense of property division rules benefits divorcing spouses. Few things complicate a divorce faster than spouses who do not understand their rights under the law and their obligations to each other. Learning more about the rules for property division in Illinois divorce will help both spouses better understand what to expect during the negotiation of property division matters in an Illinois divorce.

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