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.