In the state of Tennessee, what is the general rule on returning an engagement ring? My fiancˇe called it off with me recently and it completely blind sided me. Never saw it coming. Together 4 years, engaged almost 2 of those years. What rights do I have to the ring. It seems he breached an oral contract. That is what one attorney told me when I called and spoke with one. Any advice?
Here is the law and the case which set precedent - it goes back to him. It's a pretty clear cut decision.
"A court case in Tennessee has provided a precedent for engaged couples everywhere as to what should happen to the engagement ring if a marriage never takes place.
The case appeared in the Knoxville Court of Appeals recently and pitted the formerly-engaged Jason Crippen and Catharyn Campbell in a battle for rights to the ring. According to court records, the couple was engaged December 25, 2005. Though the filing did not state when the engagement ended or who terminated the relationship, Catharyn refused to return the ring upon Jason's request, so he sued her for it.
In the lower court case, the judge ruled in Cathryn's favor. The ruling explained, "once she receives and she accepts (the ring), it becomes a final gift and nothing else that happens thereafter changes it. I think that engagement rings are gifts."
Jason disagreed with this ruling and filed an appeal to the higher court. He did not agree that the gift was a "completed gift" and that it was actually a gift conditional upon marriage. The court agreed to take the case, and referred to other cases across the nation to determine their final decision.
Tennessee's Knoxville Court of Appeals overturned the ruling handed down by the lower court and decided that Jason was the rightful owner of the engagement ring. According to their findings, "...we hold that an engagement ring is given in contemplation of marriage, and, as such, is impliedly a conditional gift. If marriage, for whatever reason, does not ensue, ownership of the ring never vests in the donee and the donor is entitled to the return of the ring." As for those who believe that, if the male ends the engagement the female is entitled to keep the engagement ring, the court went on to say, "We decline to follow these cases because we believe the rule adopted by us is more in keeping with the essence of what occurs, and what is contemplated, at the time of an engagement. If... The marriage does not occur, the engagement ring goes back to the one who gave it."
Source: Court Documents, Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Knoxville