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The lawsuit brought by Jerry Renkers, 65, against Jessica Miller, 31, on Valentine’s Day 2014 has now been withdrawn, but not before it garnered a significant level of media attention. Renkers met Miller through the website Establishedmen.com, which seeks to pair “young, beautiful women with successful men.” The two met in January 2013, and became engaged just over one year later. Miller picked out a 3.42-carat yellow diamond ring from Tiffany & Co., which cost approximately $228,000. The relationship ended 10 days later, and Miller refused to give the ring back.
If this were you, what do you think should happen? As in my earlier post, proper etiquette would be for Miller to return the ring to Renkers, but what does the law say? Under the Family Law Act, gifts are excluded property and not subject to division; however, as the couple hadn’t been together for two or more years, and weren’t married, they wouldn’t qualify as spouses under the Act.
There have been conflicting cases in British Columbia dating back to the mid-1900s where engagement rings have been treated either as an absolute gift where the recipient gets to keep it, or, on the other hand, as a conditional gift, that is subject to the parties actually marrying (when it would likely become excluded property). If it is a conditional gift, it could depend on who breaks the engagement, as the other party could be entitled to keep the ring.
In this situation, given the value of the ring and the length of the engagement, I would be very surprised if a Court allowed Miller to keep the ring; however, we will never know, as Renkers withdrew the Court action. It is unknown at this time whether the parties reached a settlement, or if the engagement is back on…