The RI Supreme Court has not ruled on this identical issue, but has found parties engaged to be married to be in a confidential relationship such that there can be the formation of a constructive trust
. See: Nani v. Vanasse, C.A. No.
PC/05-995 (RI, 2006) citing Bratton v. Bratton, 136 S.W.2d 595, 601 (Tenn. 2004) ("[a]n engagement
to marry creates a confidential relationship between the contracting parties").
The RI courts hold that the giving of an engagement ring in contemplation of marriage
creates then a constructive trust over the ring and such constructive trusts require the return of the property if the party with the ring is at fault in the break up of the relationship.
Doe v. Burkland, 808 A.2d 1090, 1095 (R.I. 2002) (the Court hypothesized that a court sitting in equity might impose a constructive trust to "prevent a person from retaining a benefit received from another without appropriate payment for the same" and more specifically, "in [a] case when [a party] allegedly acquired property in his individual name during [an intimate] relationship subject to an agreement to share the same with [the other party.]").
Thus, if the party with the ring caused the break up of the engagement, then they must return the ring, but if they did not cause the break up, then they can keep the ring.
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