Family law: What happens when an engagement to marry is broken?

On behalf of Peterson Stark Scott posted in Family Law on November 28, 2019.

Sometimes things just don’t work out in life. That happens with couples as well. When the engagement is broken by a yet-unmarried couple in British Columbia, there is nothing in family law that stipulates what should happen, unless of course, that couple was living in a common law relationship or if a cohabitation agreement is in existence. Otherwise, there is not much each party is entitled to if an engagement ends.

There used to be a breach of promise law on the books in British Columbia, but the province did away with it long ago. But, what about that sparkling — most likely very expensive — engagement ring? It depends on whether the court views it as a conditional gift. There have been rulings both ways, so it may depend upon the circumstances and the judge.

Most often in British Columbia, judges have ruled in favour of giving the ring back. The ring has been looked upon as being a part of a contractual agreement and giving it back puts the couple back into the place they were before they became engaged. But that is not written in stone.

It may be a wise decision to consult with a lawyer in British Columbia who is experienced in family law when these kinds of issues arise. Legislative guidance in cases of engagement rings is ambiguous, but a lawyer may be able to give a client some direction after hearing his or her case. If there are financial claims in a broken engagement situation, a lawyer’s help could be invaluable.

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