I have written about when you do NOT get to keep the ring. The Mississippi Supreme Court has affirmed a time when you do…
In the case of Cummins v. Goolsby, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the “fiancee” keeping the ring even though the parties did not get married. However, there was a catch. The groom-to-be was married to another at the time of the engagement!
In fact at the time of the appeal, the groom-to-be was still married. The Court’s rationale was that conditioning a gift on marriage when one cannot lawfully marry violates public policy and constitutes unclean hands. Thus, the chancellor did not err when awarding the ring to the now “ex-fiancee.”
Also, the Court ruled that the groom-to-be now father, was not entitled to a credit of the value of the ring against child support owed for the child he had with his “ex-fiancee.”
There are several lessons to be learned from this case…
Matthew Thompson is a child custody and matrimonial lawyer in Mississippi.
The engagement ring. A circle, no beginning and no end. A diamond, one of the Earth’s most precious stones. However, if you don’t get married it goes back.
A very recent Mississippi Court of Appeals case reaffirmed Mississippi law on the engagement ring. In Cooley vs. Tucker, 200 So.3d 474, (Miss. App. 2016), the fellow, Tucker, gave a $40,000.00 ring to Cooley in 2011. He broke off the engagement in 2014. Cooley wore the ring the entirety of the engagement and the parties discussed wedding arrangements.
After calling off the wedding, Tucker requested the ring back and Cooley refused claiming it was a gift. To be a a valid gift the following is required:”(1) a donor competent to make a gift; (2) a voluntary act of the donor with donative intent;(3) the gift must be complete with nothing else to be done; (4) there must be delivery to the donee; and (5) the gift must be irrevocable.” Id.
The Court reasoned it was not a gift, in that it was a conditional gift in contemplation of marriage. Because no marriage occurred the gift condition was never satisfied. The ring must be returned. Cooley also argued that the Court should weigh in on the reasons for the marriage not occurring in the first place, meaning whose fault was it. The Court said, “We decline to do so.” Id. Did you get married? If no, the ring goes back.
Matthew Thompson is a Mississippi Family Law Attorney and cautions you to be careful who you marry and also be careful to whom you become engaged.
Will you Marry me?
If you said “yes” we may just be engaged!
Engagement is defined as a mutual promise or covenant to marry. See Black’s Law Dictionary.
Interestingly, there is no requirement that a date be set, that either of us have the present ability to fulfill said mutual promise, and there is nothing you can really do to enforce it if either of us change our mind.
Often in divorce papers, there is a prohibition against having a person with whom you are romantically involved, but not married or related to stay overnight where the minor child is. Less often, this prohibition excludes someone that you are engaged to, but that may be something that the other party can manipulate.
So are you engaged? If your papers have the language that allows a fiance’ to be around and have additional rights, I suggest it be legit, have a date set or in mind and please be sure you know the person that you intend to marry and make it work this time.
Matthew Thompson is a Family Law Attorney in Mississippi and encourages you to get engaged and married, just make sure it’s to the right person!
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@bowtielawyer.ms