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Do You Get Your Heirloom Ring Back During a Divorce?


There’s nothing more visually and emotionally beautiful than an heirloom diamond engagement ring or wedding ring set passed from one generation in a family to the next. Wearing a family heirloom ring is a loving tribute, but what happens when circumstances change and spouses decide to go their separate ways? Does the spouse who offered a family heirloom to the other spouse get the ring back during a divorce?

Do You Get Your Heirloom Ring Back During a Divorce?

Division of Marital Property in Colorado Divorce 

Like many states, Colorado’s divorce laws include the equitable distribution of marital property. This means that property accumulated during the marriage must be fairly distributed between both spouses. Fairly doesn’t always mean exactly 50/50, but in most cases, the outcome is close to even. Examples of marital property include:

  • Bank, retirement, and investment accounts opened during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the account
  • Real estate property purchased during the marriage
  • Vehicles purchased during the marriage
  • Household items
  • Art, antiques, and collectibles purchased during the marriage
  • Debts acquired during the marriage are also evenly distributed

Spouses may retain separate property. Separate property may include:

  • Real estate property owned by a spouse before the marriage
  • Bank and investment accounts in one spouse’s name before the marriage and not comingled with a spouse, though interest accrued during the marriage may be marital property. (Comingling occurs when one spouse grants the other access to an account)
  • Other assets belonging to one spouse before the marriage
  • Anything gifted to one spouse or inherited by one spouse during the marriage

Colorado’s distribution of marital property law states that anything gifted to one spouse alone is that spouse’s separate property. This almost always applies to jewelry, including heirloom rings given to one spouse by the other, unless the terms of a prenuptial agreement state that the ring must be returned to the family.

Are There Ways to Get an Heirloom Ring Back During a Divorce?

Colorado divorce law unequivocally states that one spouse giving the other a ring as a promise of marriage makes that ring the spouse’s separate property when the spouse fulfills the promise by marrying. The law says the spouse does not have to give back the ring. Even a family heirloom gifted to a spouse remains their property to keep or dispose of as they see fit. While there may be no legal way to recover the ring, there are options you could introduce to your spouse, including the following:

  • The law says the ring belongs to the spouse but does not demand that the spouse keep the ring. He/She can choose to return it
  • The spouse who wants the family heirloom ring returned may offer to buy the ring back
  • The spouse seeking the ring’s return may trade property of equal value in exchange for the ring 

If there is an asset that the spouse really wishes to keep during the process of asset distribution, the other spouse may offer it in exchange for the ring.

While legally the ring belongs to the receiving spouse, and there is no guarantee that they’ll decide to return it, you may be able to negotiate for its return with the help of experienced Fort Collins divorce attorneys.

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