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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34758
Experience:  Attorney with 16 years experience
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Before we were engaged my fiance cheated on me several

Customer Question

Before we were engaged my fiance cheated on me several times. I chose to forgive him and we got engaged. I sold all my furniture and household goods and I moved in with him with only my personal items. He has a lot of money and I do not. I caught him stalking one of the girls on facebook that he cheated on me with. I now know he will most likely cheat on me again. I can't go through any more heartbreak and I know it would be a mistake to marry him. Do I have to give the ring back? I need to sell it to buy furniture and rent an apartment. I live in AZ.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.

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Are you breaking off the engagement or is he?

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I would be breaking off the engagement because of his infidelity.
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Ok, as odd as it sounds, in Arizona, the answer isn't exactly clear as to whether you have to give the ring back.

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Surprisingly, there is no Arizona statute or case law on the question of whether an ex-fiance is entitled to have an engagement ring returned to him. Many other jurisdictions, however, have ruled on the subject and the general answer is a resounding 'yes.'

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For example, in Salens v. Tubbs, 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 19102 (6th Cir. 2008), the decedent and the defendant became engaged and the decedent, naturally, gave the defendant an engagement ring. Subsequently, the defendant ended the relationship and rejected the decedent's demands to return the ring. Nevertheless, the court held that, because the engagement ring was a conditional gift, when the condition was not fulfilled the ring or its value should be returned regardless of fault. The court reasoned that a gift of property made in contemplation of marriage can be enforced as a "conditional gift" that will be returned to the donor upon proof of an express or implied-in-fact contract.

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The "conditional gift contract" rationale of Salens is the most common avenue - it has been employed by states like Iowa, Ohio, and California, for example - but other theories include unjust enrichment, pledge, and fault, whereby the court decides whether the ring is returnable based upon who is to blame for the aborted marriage.

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In any event, despite the silence of Arizona courts, there is a substantial amount of case law in many other jurisdictions that could be cited to in a cause of action. Of course, he would have to weigh the costs and benefits of pursing litigation, but it is worth keeping in mind that there is indeed a pretty good chance that he will be successful in getting the ring back if the marriage doesn't occur.

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I am very sorry that I don’t have better news, but please understand that I do have an ethical and professional obligation to provide customers with legally correct answers based on my knowledge and experience, even when I know the answer doesn’t make the customer happy...

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thanks

Barrister