Human Interest


Man Sues Ex-Fiancée Over Engagement Ring

November 26, 2008 10:55 AM
by Josh Katz
A Connecticut man wants his engagement ring back after his wedding fell through, but his fiancée refuses. What does the law and etiquette have to say?

Ex Wants His Ring Back

Bryan Rosen’s relationship with Daniela Marcoccia came to a premature end. The Connecticut couple became engaged in June 2007 and the wedding was planned for July 26, 2008. But the relationship ended when Marcoccia hurled the ring at her fiancé in May.

Marcoccia ended up retrieving the $25,000 ring, and when Rosen asked for it back she refused, the Connecticut Post reports. In such cases, the wounded parties often consult etiquette experts or friends for advice, but in Connecticut, as in many states, the issue is technically a matter of law. So Rosen recently filed a suit in Superior Court against his ex-bride-to-be.

“In a situation like this an engagement ring is a conditional gift of the marriage, and if the marriage doesn’t take place, the man is entitled to get it back,” said Rosen’s lawyer, Erich Gaston. “That’s the law.”

Background: Ring law

But is it the law? In a Fox News video, attorney Jonna Spilbor explains that it usually is, and Rosen has the legal advantage in the current case. Engagement law generally considers the ring a gift that is conditional, and if the marriage does not take place then the ring must be given back. But the law is not always that simple. Sometimes, the conditions of the breakup come into play, and if the man cheated on his fiancée he might lose ring privileges.

A common argument against returning the ring is that “the condition needed to make the engagement ring a final gift is simply the acceptance of the proposal of marriage, not the completion of the marriage ceremony,” according to But most courts reject that argument, saying there is an “implied condition of marriage.” New York, North Carolina, Minnesota and Tennessee are examples of states that consider the ring a conditional gift that does not take into consideration who breaks off the relationship, and would probably side with Rosen in the recent case.

But other states would disagree. In Kansas and Montana “a gift, once given, cannot be taken back,” according to CNN. In California, the case would depend on who initiated the breakup.

Standards of etiquette sometimes differ from the law on engagement ring issues, however. As etiquette expert Susan Fitter explained on Fox News, the woman should return the ring and it shows a “lack of respect” if she refuses. Emily Post also says that an engagement ring should be given back sans wedding, CNN writes.

Reference: Buying engagement rings, and arranging weddings


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