Was it for Valentine’s Day?

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Q: My fiancé gave me a ring.  Afterwards, he called it a Valentine’s Day gift.  I prepared for the wedding, and he signed over half his house.  Then he strolled by to say that it was all over.  I became upset, he called the police and a squad of emergency medical personnel took me away.  I responded to this unexpected change of scenery by calming down.  The engagement has remained terminated.  Is the ring mine, half his house?  What about my deposit with the caterer?

A: In New York, anyone is entitled to recover property given in contemplation of a marriage, when it does not occur, and the courts are not interested in fault.  No one can resist the return of an engagement gift by blaming the donor for the breakup.  Gifts given in contemplation of the marriage are required to be returned.

Even though your former fiancé called the ring a Valentine’s Day present, don’t be too hopeful that the court will make an exception.  There would be a number of evidentiary hurdles.  For example, if the ring was expensive, was it insured?  Who paid the premiums?

It is basically straightforward that your former fiancé gets back the ring and the whole of his house.  Unfortunately, the law is far less settled as to restoring your outlay for the canceled wedding.  Although the right approach might be to split this loss fifty-fifty, there are cases awarding more and cases giving less.

It is unfortunate that this chain of events led to your confinement for observation, but a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress is always problematic.  From your description, it does not come across that your former fiancé had a goal of getting you wrongfully confined.  If one party feels that an engagement is not sound, then the courts do not want to intimidate him or her from communicating this to the other.

Last but perhaps not least, in these situations, a client often finds that the best approach is to find someone else to be his or her Valentine.  However, a discussion of how to do so is far beyond the scope of this column.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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