– from Virginia S. in River West, WI

Question Details:

My husband and I have decided to file a no fault divorce. He is now requesting I give back to him all the jewelry he has given to me over the year as well as my wedding ring. I do not want anything from him except to keep the ring. How do gifts such as jewelry and wedding rings get handled when marital assets are divided?

Family Law Attorney Response:

This is a great question. We need to explore the difference between gifts and conditional gifts.

When two individuals are married as they receive gifts from others or give gifts to each other these assets and or property are gifts that belong to both you and your spouse.

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The exceptions to this rule exist when a third party who gave the gift was explicit in saying the gift is for only one party. This also holds true when gifts are conditional gifts.

If you are working with a divorce lawyer they should explain a conditional gift is one that is not final until a condition is met. In the example of an engagement/wedding ring if  you got married the condition of the gift was met. If you did not get married you would not have met the condition of the gift and would need to return the wedding/engagement ring to the other person.

“Gifts” extend past traditional things. When one party deposits funds into a joint bank account the law will typically view the “joint account” as being owned by both spouses.

There are rebuttal presumptions allowing for exceptions. These bare the burden of proof that the asset was not intended to be jointly owned. However, if you get divorced, all assets will need to be split unless it can be proven some where never intended to be jointly owned.

Hope this helps clarify some things for you. Give us a call if we can help you further.

Lawyer Jeff Hughes from Sterling Law Offices, S.C.
Jeff Hughes, J.D.

Managing Partner

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