The exchange of engagement and wedding rings is a symbolic and important part of many relationships, but what happens to them if a marriage or engagement ends? [1]


Illinois courts identify engagement rings as gifts made in the contemplation of marriage.  Courts recognize that, since an engagement ring is a gift given in the contemplation of marriage, once the promise to marry is broken, the person who breaks the promise is not entitled to retain the ring. [2].  Illinois law does not look at fault in determining if a ring should be returned in this situation.  For this reason, courts do not examine the underlying reason whyan engagement ended, but instead assess whoended the engagement in determining the rightful owner. [3] Thus, if the person who has the ring broke off the engagement, courts will typically require return of the ring; if the person who is asking for the ring broke off the engagement, courts will typically not require it to be returned. [4] If the relationship is mutually ended, courts will typically require return of the ring to the purchaser. [5]

One important piece of seeking return of an engagement ring is to look at who currently has the ring. The most common suit filed to request return of a ring is called a replevin action, which is for situations in which the owner of an item seeks for it to be returned.  [6] In order to bring a replevin action for the recovery of an engagement ring, the party from whom the ring is sought must still have the ring. [7] This means the ring cannot have been sold, lost, or given to another person.


Illinois approaches wedding rings differently than engagement rings. During a divorce, marital property is divided equally, while non-marital party is retained by each party separately. [8] Property determined by the court to be a gift from one spouse to the other constitutes non-marital property. [9] Illinois courts have typically determined that wedding and engagement rings are gifts from one spouse to the other, and are therefore considered non-marital property. [10] This entitles each spouse to retain their own rings upon the dissolution of a marriage. Wedding and engagement rings may still affect the total settlement between spouses and a ring’s value may be considered when determining maintenance. [11]

We understand that ending a relationship can be complicated and we are here to help.  Contact the attorneys at Sherer Law Offices for assistance with this or other domestic litigation matters.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 25 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests.


[2]Vann v. Vehrs, 260 Ill. App. 3d 648, 653, 633 N.E.2d 102, 106 (1994)

[3] Carroll v. Curry, 392 Ill. App. 3d 511, 519, 912 N.E.2d 272, 279 (2009)

[4] Harris v. Davis, 139 Ill. App. 3d 1046, 1048, 487 N.E.2d 1204, 1206 (1986)

[5] Vann v. Vehrs, 260 Ill. App. 3d 648, 653, 633 N.E.2d 102, 106 (1994)

[6] Liceaga v. Baez, 2019 IL App (1st) 181170, ¶ 30

[7] 735 ILCS 5/19-101

[8] 750 ILCS 5/503

[9] 750 ILCS 5/503 (a) (1)

[10] In re Marriage of Smith, 122 Ill. App. 3d 213, 215, 460 N.E.2d 1201, 1203 (1984)

[11] 750 ILCS 5/504 (a) (1)