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Birmingham AL Collaborative Divorce Law Blog

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Ring Tones: What should you do with your marriage bands after you divorce?

Your engagement ring and/or wedding band are often the first outward symbols of commitment to your partner. But when uncoupling, dispensing of that marital bling may be the last thing you consider — and one of the hardest to reconcile. For many men and women, taking off that band is the first step towards accepting a new chapter in their lives.

Aside from what the law might direct, should you return the ring when the marriage is done?  Etiquette experts say no. “As an engagement ring is given to a woman as a conditional gift to result in marriage, once the actual wedding has taken place, that ring is hers forever and ever to keep – whether the marriage lasts two days or twenty years,” reports etiquette-guide.com.

So, what do you do with that lovely diamond solitaire or platinum band after you divorce? According to a recent survey on TODAY.com, sentimentalists and pragmatists are split. 53% of respondents said they would “ditch” the ring after divorce, while 47% vowed they would retain it as a keepsake.

However, in cases where the ring is your ex’s family heirloom, returning may feel like the right thing to do.  “If the ring was an heirloom, it’s very nice for the person who received it to give it back the family they’re no longer a part of, or at least ask if they’d like the ring returned to them,” Lizzie Post, great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post, told TODAY Style. “Because that was something that was being passed down through a family, and you’re not included in the family anymore.”

Some newly divorced folks have come up with creative solutions for this conundrum. From selling the ring and giving the proceeds to charity, to repurposing the stone into another piece of jewelry, there are plenty of ways for that wedding and engagement ring to find a new life after the marriage is done.

However, like most post-divorce decisions (such as buying a new home, changing jobs, or starting a new relationship), it’s best to not rush to the pawn shop in haste. Out of sight, out of mind may be the best policy until the emotional dust settles. Placing that once-meaningful symbol of fidelity in a safety deposit box or tucking it into a drawer, may be a good intermediary step. When you’re ready to move on, you’re bound to make a more rational decision and be happier in the long run.


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