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Thomas Swartz
Thomas Swartz, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 3150
Experience:  Twenty one years experience as a lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Former Appellate Law Clerk.
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I dated a man on and off for about 5-6 months. A long

Customer Question

I dated a man on and off for about 5-6 months. A long distance relationship. He asked me several times to marry him and I said no. He is now stating that i have breeched the promise to marry him. He bought me a ring 2 months after we were dating. (Not an engagement ring). Now he wants it back. He is a lawyer and claims that I have to give the ring back to him. I want to know what the law is about gifts in the state of Texas.
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Thomas Swartz replied 9 years ago.


In order for a gift to be enforceable, three things must be present: (1) the donor's intent to give the ring as a gift, (2) the donor's delivery of the ring to the donee, and (3) the donee's acceptance of the ring. If you can demonstrate all three elements, a court will consider the ring to be a gift to you.

You will of course also have to prove that the ring had nothing to do with an engagement or marriage.

When it comes to engagement rings, Texas law applies the conditional-gift rule, which means that an engagement ring, by its very nature, is a conditional gift given in contemplation of marriage. The conditional gift rule as applied by Texas courts contains an element of fault. This means that Texas courts will look to which person is at fault for breaking the engagement.

From a practical standpoint, what all this means is that if a women accepts an engagement ring and sometime thereafter breaks the engagement for no justifying reason, the law requires her to return the ring to her former fiancé.

However, if you can disprove your ex's claim that the ring was an engagement ring, and prove the other 3 elements above, a court will likely find that the ring was simply a gift to you and can not be revoked.

Good luck.



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Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to Thomas Swartz's Post: This is what he wrote me. I never accepted a marriage proposal. Based on the below is this what he appears to prove?


            I see your emails where you think I am harassing you. The reason I am emailing you is because as long as you have my ring there is hope between us. The sole purpose of that ring was to memorialize our love and intention to marry. In November, it was too soon for an engagement ring and we wanted something to be a symbol of our love and desire to marry. If that love is gone and you no longer want to marry me, then there is no point in you keeping that ring and no point in me contacting you. You have broken up with me and reconciled several times. I need a definite statement from you and whether you keep or return the ring would be that definitive statement. I know you like that ring a lot and for you to part with it to rid your life of me would be a strong statement that could not be misinterpreted by me or anyone else. I could not justify contacting you again. To keep the ring means that you are keeping part of me, and that there is a chance to win you over. After 10 months and over $40,000, I believe I have earned the right to get clear signal from you that leaves no room for doubt and that ring is the only clear signal I know. Deeds are stronger than words. Otherwise there will always be that debate of whether “no” means “no” this time or not regardless of what you write me or have someone else tell me. We both went to the Quest and know what was taught and need to live by it and know the consequences of not.

            Please don’t try to claim you lost it. I know you better than that.

            My sole purpose in writing this email is to determine your intentions and that ring is the clearest signal I know. This is not harassment or contacting you simply to irritate you. My address isXXXXX #A, Houston Texas 77007.

            I would like you to be courteous enough to respond within 24 hours.


Greg from home
Expert:  Thomas Swartz replied 9 years ago.

It definitely seems like he is trying to set up proof that the ring was part of an engagement agreement. You should write back to him in no uncertain terms that you never agreed to marry him and that the ring was never a part of an engagement agreement. You should tell him that you accepted the ring separately and apart from any discussion or consideration of marriage. Unfortunately, if he does take you to court to try to recover the ring, it essentially will be your word against his as to whether or not the ring was given in contemplation of marriage. You should try to think of and start building a case as to why the ring was a regular gift - what were the circumstances at the time it was given, what was said at the time, how did you wear the ring, who did you show it to and why. If it does go to court, a lot will depend on the proof and who seems more credible to the court. His letter is a little on the "unbalanced" side if you ask me.

Good luck.