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Alex J. Esq.
Alex J. Esq., Attorney at Law
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 16720
Experience:  Licensed experienced Attorney
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My divorced brother got engaged to a woman who was also divorced.

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My divorced brother got engaged to a woman who was also divorced. They used her old engagement ring as a deposit. My brother went to 6 different places and finally was able to get $2600 for it. The ring he bought her was $10,000. She has since broken off the engagement but wont return the ring and he's stuck with the remaining bill. He lives in New Hampshire and she lives in Massachusetts. He would like to take her to small claims court but doesn't know what to do or if there is a case, or if it would cost him more to take her to court. Please help us. Thank you!
Hello. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will be happy to answer your question.

I am sorry to hear about your brother's difficult situation.

Most courts have held that an engagement ring is a conditional gift which becomes an actual gift when the set condition is met, i.e. marriage takes place.

If your brother's fiancee had broken off the engagement, then your brother can sue his fiancee for the return of the engagement ring or in alternative for the value of the ring.

Your brother would have to sue his fiancee in the court that is local to the fiancee's residence in Massachusetts and the maximum amount that your brother can sue his former fiancee for in the small claims court is $7,000 and if he wants to sue for more money, then he would have to sue in a different court and hire a local attorney, which can be cost prohibitive.

Below is the link to the official Mass. website that explains the small claims process and related court costs:

I wish you and your brother the best of luck!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
How does it work if it is a ring, and not a dollar amount? He may be able to go back to the original jeweler to see what they'd give him? But can he still go through small claims? Does he sue for the amount they'd get for the ring? Does he subtract the $2600 she put into it with her ring? Or does he take the approximately 33% off the price he'd get to cover her portion that she put into it so they both lose the same proportion? I think he wants to be fair, but feels they should both lose something since he didn't even break it off. What would a judge want to see?
Thank you for your follow up.

Basically, if your brother asks the court to order the former fiancee to give the ring back to him, then he would have to give back $2,600 that the ex put down on the ring.

If your brother decides to sue for monetary damages, then he would need to get a written estimate of the current ring value, possibly from the same jeweler from whom the ring was purchased and sue for the market value, minus the $2,600 deposit that ex-fiancee had put down by trading in her ring.

The judge would generally want to see the sales bill for the ring and any other evidence / witnesses that can show that this was engagement ring given in anticipation of marriage as a conditional gift.

I wish you the best of luck!
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