Georgia Legal Code
- Because engagements are not a state-recognized legal status, Georgia's legal code is silent on the specific issue of broken engagements. For this reason, answers to questions about the legal ownership of engagement rings and other gifts must be found in Georgia laws on gifts and contracts, as well as in court-ordered legal precedent. Because of this silence, complicated cases or those involving large amounts of money or valuable property may need to be taken to court and decided on a case-by-case basis.
Engagement Rings & Gifts
- Under Georgia law, valid gifts must meet three qualifications: the giver must have meant to give it, the recipient must accept it, and the gift itself must be delivered. At face value, engagement rings may seem to fall into this category. However, Georgia law also allows for the category of "conditional gifts," under which if the conditions of the contract are not met, the recipient may recover the gift. While many women may take the issue to court, arguing that the "condition" being met is acceptance of the engagement, in most cases courts will rule that the condition was in fact the culmination of the engagement in marriage. This is also true of gifts given to the couple by a third party, such as a house deed.
Breach of Contract
- Georgia courts have set the precedent of taking into account losses a party may have suffered as a result of a broken engagement. This legal precedent is interpreted on a case-specific basis. Ground-breaking Georgia case law includes that of jilted Georgia bride RoseMary Shell, who in 2007 won $150,000 from her fiance after he called off their engagement just days before the wedding. The settlement took into account the fact that Shell had taken a pay cut to move, and otherwise "shown reliance on" the wedding taking place.
Etiquette, Fault, & Georgia Law
- Etiquette guru Peggy Post of the Emily Post Institute says that when an engagement is broken, the ring should be returned to the giver (unless it was a family heirloom of the recipient's). While this thinking generally coincides with Georgia legal interpretation, some courts will take fault into account when considering the ownership of the engagement ring. This could include which party broke off the engagement, whether the relationship was abusive or if either party was unfaithful.