Ringing In Valentine’s Day; Who gets the Ring when things go Wrong?

Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular days to get engaged!  Along with Christmas and New Years, Valentine’s Day is the holiday for popping the question.  But who gets the RING if things don’t pan out?

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In Mississippi, the ring is a pre-marriage gift.  It can be argued that the ring is actually a conditional gift creating a contractual obligation.  How Romantic!

Here’s the scenario.  An offer of marriage is proposed and a ring given in exchange for a “Yes,” being an agreement to marry.  So long as both parties uphold their end; the fellow gives the ring and the lady marries the fellow = offer + acceptance & valuable consideration.  At this point the contract is fulfilled and the rings is now the property of the lady.  But what if they were only married for a minute?  Well, if they married the contract is fulfilled.  Certainly, there could be exceptions due to fraud or overreaching, but these are not typical.

The chancellor properly concluded that the engagement ring was a gift from [the fellow] to [the lady]. That gift necessarily predated the marriage of the parties. Thus, it was an asset brought by [the lady] into the marriage and was not a marital asset subject to equitable division. MacDonald v. MacDonald, 698 So.2d 1079 (¶ 13) (Miss.1997). It was, therefore, beyond the chancellor’s authority to order [the lady]  to return possession of that item to [the fellow] and his refusal to do so cannot constitute reversible error on appeal.  Neville v. Neville, 734 So.2d 352 (Ms.App. 1997).

What if she backs out prior to the marriage?  He may get the ring back…unless it was his fault. Now this can be tricky.  How does one determine whose fault it is?  This is a factual determination and for the Judge to decide in the event that it winds up in Court.

This is the argument.  The ring  given was given in consideration of the promise of a marital contract, and if the marriage did take place Wife  keeps even in divorce, absent fraud or overreaching.   However, if the Wife accepts the ring in contemplation of and in consideration for the marriage and then the “marriage” never materializes, then the fellow is entitled to the ring.

Want to be safe, legally speaking anyway? Then make your marriage proposal contingent, as follows*:

 “Dearest One,

I love you and desire to marry you.   As a symbol of same, I am making a wholly contingent offer to you of this ring, of significant monetary and sentimental value, but a likewise sizable lien against same, in exchange for your promise to marry me. In the event that we do NOT get married, then said ring shall be returned to me in the same condition as presented, or alternatively you may elect to assume said lien, in full, for said ring and shall indemnify and defend me from any liability thereon.  ‘Will you accept this rose?'” *(a paraphrase of colleague J. Kitchens)

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney that you can engage in the event you need a divorce, and if you use the above contingent marriage proposal, you just might!

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer    Visit the website: Thompson Law Firm

You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@wmtlawfirm.com.

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5 More Family Law FaceBook Don’ts

I previously blogged on 5 Family Law FaceBook Don’ts.  This was a very popular blog topic and continues to generate a lot of traffic. This post lists 5 more things you should not be doing on FaceBook with regards to your family law case.

Posting inappropriate stuff on FB is not just an American thing. 1/5 of Australian divorces use FB postings to discredit some testimony that was offered by one party and FB activities are showing up in about 1/3 of United Kingdom divorce cases. Familyandthelaw.com.au 

5 More Things not to Put on FaceBook:

  • Don’t post Pictures of the other party, whether they be flattering or not. 
  • Don’t post Pictures of the children doing activities with captions that note the other parent’s absence.
  • Don’t post Pictures of your new squeeze in a “Parenting Role” that is intended to inflame the other side.
  • Don’t comment on your friend’s drama and “one-up” them with your own.
  • Don’t allow your FB friends to bash your Ex. 

Stay tuned for more FaceBook don’ts, as I have enough material to make this one a series and unfortunately am learning of new things not to do on an almost daily basis.

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney in Mississippi that strives to not put inappropriate things on FB and thinks you should too!  #Trust the Bow Tie.

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer

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Behind the Scenes: A Legal Calling (LawCall, TV, Radio & Speaking)

Recently I was invited to be on the TV show LawCall.  I decided to write about that experience; the good, the challenges, and the behind the scenes “secrets.”

LawCall is a live, weekly, thirty-minute call-in show hosted by local personal injury attorneys Rocky Wilkins and Tim Porter of the law firms, Rocky Wilkins Law Firm and Porter Malouf, respectively.   The show features guests attorneys from across the state of Mississippi.  Every show highlights one legal area.  The attorneys take live phone calls from viewers pertaining to that topic. My appearance was the Valentine’s edition; Love & the Law – Family Law in Mississippi.

This was not my first time on television discussing legal themes. I was previously a guest on the Local 98 TV Show The Reel Deal with Cole Berry discussing legal movies.  I have also been on the radio discussing Father’s Rights on WLEZ, in preparation for the then upcoming Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project’s free family law seminar.  I also routinely speak at CLEs (continuing legal education seminars) on Family Law.  I really enjoy these opportunities to talk about what I do.

On LawCall the usual hosts were out-of-town so Ben Wilson, an attorney with Rocky Wilkins Firm, filled in for Rocky.  Ben and I discussed general family law topics prior to the show.  I also met and spoke with the moderator/ TV facilitator Tamica Smith.  Tamica is a pro.  She has been on the news and TV for over 15 years in various markets and was as cool as a cucumber.

When I arrived, I received my instructions from Charley Jones and his wife Angela.  They produce LawCall.  I received an ear piece where I could hear the control room and the callers.  We did a run down, which is just a practice run of the show.  I was told where I would be sitting, how the show would open, when to expect commercial breaks and generally where to look.  This was the toughest part for me.  There were 3 cameras.  The one to my right I was never to look at.  When the shot showed the whole panel I was to look into the middle camera and when I was speaking directly to the caller I was to look to the left camera.  It took some practice and just as I was getting the hang of it the show was over!

There were 4-5 callers with some really good questions.  There was a question about whether a new spouse would be responsible for the husband’s support obligation from a prior relationship. She would not be.  There was a question about Grandparent’s rights.  Grandparents have rights guaranteed by law in Mississippi.  A caller asked about whether his alimony obligations could be changed.  Based on what he described he could seek to modify his obligations.

Behind the scenes.  One of the newscasters had on jeans.  You only saw him from the waist up on TV so it did not matter, but it surprised me.  It made me think of the old joke showing all the newscasters in their “heart boxers” and suits up top.  It was only water in the coffee mugs.  I got to keep the mug.  Also, I had one call to my office within one minute of the show ending and had another call at 9:05 a.m. Monday morning.  How is that for marketing results!

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney that has appeared on Local 98 TV, WLBT’s Law Call, WLEZ on the radio and at numerous speaking engagements.  If you need a speaker or TV personality at your next Family Law Seminar/Banquet please contact Matthew about his low, low “Celebrity Appearance Fee!”

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer    Visit the website: Thompson Law Firm

You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@wmtlawfirm.com.

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Divorce, Child Custody & Child Support, Alimony, Contempt, Modification, Youth Court, Adoption and Appeals.

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