While we of course applaud Kim Kardashian's recent engagement to Kris Humphries and wish them nothing but happiness, our attention was drawn to one thing in particular. The massive 2 million dollar engagement ring presented to Kim is certainly an eye-catcher. Not that we would predict any unhappiness in the future of the couple, it is an interesting question to ask: What would happen to the engagement ring if the wedding is called off?
If this was to occur in Ontario, the most important thing to determine would be whether the ring was given as an absolute gift or whether it was gift in contemplation of marriage. When a gift is made absolutely, then it does not have to be returned at the breakdown of the engagement, it was given to the other person to be their property completely. If, however, the rings was given on condition that the couple get married the courts in Ontario in such cases as Okahai v. Sharify and Marcon v. Cicchelli, have stated that the ring must be returned. While it may seem unfair, in Ontario, the Marriage Act states that the return of property is not based on whose fault the end of the engagement was:
33. Where one person makes a gift to another in contemplation of or conditional upon their marriage to each other and the marriage fails to take place or is abandoned, the question of whether or not the failure or abandonment was caused by or was the fault of the donor shall not be considered in determining the right of the donor to recover the gift.
Some of the courts in Ontario, such as in Marcon v. Cicchelli seem to have confused this point, and considered that one individual, by causing the breakdown of the engagement, had breached the condition. This seems to be contrary to the statute, and it is clear in the Marriage Act that the most important question for anyone with an engagement ring; what was the intention behind the gift of the engagement ring.
It's also important to remember that this framework applies to any gift during an engagement. A court is going to examine what the intention was behind the gift. They will look at all of the evidence, and not just rely on what the person claims their intention was, though that would be admissible. So if things break down for Kim and Kris, all eyes will turn to what precisely what was the understood intention behind that 2 million dollar ring.