Be Careful What You Wish For (Particularly in a Text Message!)

Earlier this month, a New York Supreme Court judge ruled that a break-up text message cost an ex-fiancé the $50,000 engagement ring he had purchased.

Under New York law, an engagement ring is generally considered to be a conditional gift to the receiving party up until the actual marriage occurs – at which point it becomes the sole and separate property of the receiving spouse.

In this case, the would-be groom broke up with his bride-to-be by sending the news in a text message.  When the ex-girlfriend angrily responded, “Your doing this through a text message???,” he replied, “Plus you get a $50,000 parting ring.  Enough for a down payment on a house.”  The parties broke off the engagement after the bride refused to sign a prenuptial agreement.

In the would-be groom’s suit to get the ring back, the presiding judge found that his text response was sufficient to entitle the ex-girlfriend to keep the white gold, 2.97-carat diamond ring or its fair market value despite the terms of the contemplated marriage contract.

So what really is the moral of the story?  Be careful what you wish for (and reduce to writing!)  Written or recorded statements made from an emotional place during the breakdown of a relationship may later be used during litigation as a statement against the party making the statement.  When responding to a significant other, either during or after the relationship ends, it is always important to stop and pause before saying something that you might regret – either emotionally or financially – in the future.