You Be the Judge: Is a Text a Promise?

Jul 27, 2018 | Allen A. Ritchie

You are engaged. You break up. Who gets the ring? It is a typical lawyer question. I, too, have gotten it … several times.

The main arguments are: it is a gift, so the former bride keeps it, OR it is given as a condition of getting married and since there is no wedding, the former groom gets it back.

Usually the judge says everyone go back to the pre-engagement situation which means the ring is given back to the giver. But not always.

You Be the Judge
Here is a real situation. The couple is on vacation in Florida. Louis presents Christina with a nearly 3 carat diamond engagement ring worth more than $50,000. They set the wedding date.

Later, he breaks off the engagement when she refuses to sign a pre-nuptial agreement.

He texts her with his decision and wants the ring returned. She texts back, “No.” She also texts, “You’re doing this through a text message?” He later texts that the rock is “a $50,000 parting ring … enough for a down payment on a house.”

He says the text about a “parting ring” was sarcasm, like a game show host – you get a parting gift. She says he broke the engagement after trying to change the deal (adding the pre-nup); so, he should get nothing. What would you decide?

The case went all the way to the New York Supreme Court. The ruling said the text proved that the ring was a gift. To quote the ruling “Once a gift is given, it is irrevocable.”

Watch what you text. There are different ways to read the same words. Also, breaking up by text is probably going to make someone unhappy.

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Allen Ritchie