Friday, February 17, 2006

B.S. Law in PA: Engagement Ring a "Conditional Gift"

In PA (and I believe NJ & NY among other states) an engagement ring is considered a "conditional gift". Now, before all the male readers puff up in approval...this is not right. If a guy breaks off an engagement a week before a wedding the girl still has the dress, flowers, etc. that she paid for --and he doesn't have reimburse her for any of that, but she has to give back the ring!?

I know many women believe they should get to keep it regardless of who breaks the engagement (unconditional gift), but I think it should be contingent on who breaks it... (some states do it that way also).

This issue may come before the legislature in Pennsylvania because of a case that is in the news here in Philly...The woman (Grace) sold her $35,000 ring after her fiancé broke the engagement (she gave the money to charity) and he was suing her (he seems to have now dropped the suit out of publicity shame).

"When engagements shatter, who gets to keep the ring depends on where you live.

Pennsylvania is one of several states, including New Jersey and New York, that side with the man. California, too, backs the guy, unless he breaks it off. But courts in Montana have held that the ring is an unconditional gift that need not be returned.

Wedding experts are likewise divided.

Mark Kingsdorf, the owner of the Queen of Hearts Wedding Consultants in Philadelphia, believes that from an etiquette standpoint, the ring is merely a gift.

"It's not a binding contract," said Kingsdorf. "My concern now is whether we are going to do prenuptial agreements upon engagement: I give you this ring and ask you to marry me, but please sign this and state that it's not a gift.

"Is that the next step?"

Grace's story has caught the attention of State Sen. Joe Conti (R., Bucks), whose office is drafting legislation that could be introduced in Harrisburg as early as mid-March. The bill is in the preliminary stages, and it is unclear what final form it would take.

Vicki Wilken, Conti's legislative counsel, said the senator is considering a range of options, from requiring Pennsylvania jewelers to post notices about the state law to publishing the information in state-issued consumer-protection pamphlets.

Conti is in discussions with the Attorney General's Office to determine the best approach.

"We are looking at all this stuff," said Wilken, who acknowledged that even as a lawyer, she was shocked to learn of the law. "It's not widely known. I didn't know it, and we want to educate people so they don't end up in the same situation as Janet."

Engagement Ring Debate
Who Gets Custody of the Ring?
The Man -He bought it!
The Woman -It was a gift!
Whoever didn't break the engagement.
They should sell it to pay for anything purchased.

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