Half of us think that gifts given between spouses should not be
included in a divorce settlement, be it an engagement ring or car.
Around the same proportion (53%) felt that gifts received from
other people outside of the marriage should not be included in a
These findings highlight that for many people, a gift remains
our own – no matter what happens later on in a marriage.
So, who gets the engagement ring?
The reality is that gifts, whether received from a spouse or
anyone else, and no matter the sentimental attachment, are
considered as part of the assets to be divided in an eventual
settlement. Often in a settlement, an equivalent value will be
attached to the item, and whichever person does not take the car
(or Persian rug, or piece or art) will be compensated, for example
through an additional cash settlement.
In fact, the only exception is for engagement rings. Current
legislation states that the gift of an engagement ring shall be
presumed to be an absolute gift which the recipient is entitled to
keep, unless there was a written or oral agreement expressing the
ring was gifted on a conditional basis. In some cases, a family
heirloom might give rise to an implied condition that the ring
would be returned upon the breakdown of the relationship.
Therefore, unless the engagement ring is worth an extremely large
sum, it does not need to be returned or compensated for.
What couples should bear in mind, especially when tensions are
running high around division of shared property, is that it is
rarely worth asking a Court to rule on who walks away with
individual items or gifts because of the costs involved . A good
solicitor will always attempt to help resolve these issues before
it gets to court.
Jolene Hutchison, Head of Family and Divorce, remarks:
"From a financial point of view, it's important to
take a common sense approach when it comes to the division of
gifts. It is far better to avoid having to go to Court over who
will walk away with possessions gifted to you over the
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While a request for a divorce may come as a shock, most people come to the realisation that if their spouse considers that the marriage is over then, perhaps after attending marriage counselling, there is no point fighting the inevitable.
There is no question that Mr and Mrs Owens are both unhappy with their current position, and the Court of Appeal judges were equally unhappy with the current legal position. The question is what should be done.
The highly unusual decision in the recent case of Owens v Owens, has served as a reminder of the Respondent's right to defend a Petition for divorce, and the Court's power to reject a Petition based on unreasonable behaviour...
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