Lis and the Single Girl: Engagement Ring Justice — The Laws that Govern the Rock

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Single and fabulous? Well then this is the column for you!

Ever wish you had your own personal Carrie Bradshaw to answer your questions — not just about what to do if your boyfriend dumps you via text message — but serious issues that confront us? This special daily edition of “Lis on Law” will address topics that single women are faced and that everybody wonders about — but no one has time to figure out.

Between work, working out, dating and maintaining a social life, it’s tough to find time to do much else. So, read up and prepare to be fully armed for brunch this weekend with your friends with some super conversation topics! Your pals will be amazed!

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We went out for eight months and got engaged, but now it's over. Do I have to give him back the ring?

I'm sure this is a question many women wonder about — like most issues in the law the answer is a resounding maybe. It all depends on the state where you and your ex-sweetheart reside. Generally, courts treat the engagement ring as a gift. Legally, three elements must be met: One, the donor intended to give the ring as a gift. Two, the donor must actually deliver the ring to the recipient. And, three, the donee (that's you) must accept the item. However, in a number of courtrooms a diamond is not always forever.

The majority of courts employ the conditional gift theory. That means until some future event occurs (in this case the wedding) the gift is not final. The almost betrothed who feel they have put up with enough of their fiancée’s baloney to keep the rock argue that saying "yes" to the marriage offer is enough to qualify. While this argument seems plausible, the law concerns itself with justice and not romance. Many courts find that the engagement ring contains an implied condition of marriage and therefore a trip down the aisle is actually a requirement.

However, if you love your ring (and no longer your fiancée) think about moving to Montana. That state's Supreme Court declared that an engagement ring is an unconditional and completed gift. So if you are the ring recipient in that western state, it's likely you can keep your stone.

Bottom line — for those unlucky in love, check out your state law and remember what my grandma says, "Men are like buses, there's always another one coming."

• Have a question for Lis? E-mail her and check back tomorrow for another edition of "Lis and the Single Girl."

• CLICK HERE for yesterday's entry!


• Albinger v. Harris, 2002 WL 1226858 (Mont. 2002)

* Disclaimer

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Lis Wiehl joined FOX News Channel as a legal analyst in October 2001. She is currently a professor of law at the New York Law School. Wiehl received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College in 1983 and received her Master of Arts in Literature from the University of Queensland in 1985. In addition, she earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1987. Lis is also the author of The 51% Minority — How Women Still Are Not Equal and What You Can Do About It. (Watch the Video) To read the rest of Lis's bio, click here.