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I provide experienced legal guidance in family law, divorce and special education law. I represent parents and families throughout western Massachusetts.

Are wedding rings considered marital property in Massachusetts?

When a couple exchanges wedding rings, those rings are typically thought of as a symbol of their lasting relationship. Unfortunately, not all of those relationships last, and those symbols can turn into reminders of how much money was spent on an expensive piece of jewelry. Because such jewelry could be a sizeable investment in some cases, some Massachusetts parties may wonder if engagement and wedding rings are considered marital property and what that means in terms of property division.

In some states, if a couple decides not to go through with a wedding, there is a chance for the engagement ring to be given back to the buyer. Under certain laws, it may be considered a "conditional gift" with the condition being marriage. If the marriage does not occur, then the gift does not belong to the receiver.

Other states, however, may consider a ring an "absolute" gift, and if the wedding does not take place or a couple divorces later, the person who received the ring is entitled to keep it. Nonetheless, there are exceptions to rules, such as in cases where a ring may have been passed down through a family. Heirlooms are more likely to be up for discussion as to who may be entitled, and the giver may have a better chance of getting that property back.

When it comes to buying the perfect ring, many people will spare no expense for the person they believe is the love of their life. In turn, those rings can come with the hefty price tag and could be considered an important piece of property aside from the emotional factor. Unfortunately for the person who made the purchase, engagement rings are typically not considered marital property and not necessarily subject to divisional rules. Because the rules and situations vary from state to state, it important for Massachusetts residents to understand where rings may fall under their state divorce and property division laws.

Source: Huffington Post, Give Me My Ring Back! (Who Gets the Wedding Rings in a Divorce?), Natalie Gregg, Sept. 23, 2013

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