In July, 2012, Christa Clark was dumped by her fiancé via a text message. The two had been engaged for about 14 months before she received that fateful message informing her that their wedding would no longer take place.
When they got engaged, her fiancé, Louis Billittier presented Clark with a 2.97 – carat diamond engagement ring valued at approximately $53,000.00. While still attempting to understand the break up, Clark received additional text messages from both her ex – fiancé and his business partner stating: “Plus you get a $50,000 parting ring. Enough for a down payment on a house.” and “Keep it up, and I will take back the ring as well.”
According to the Judge’s ruling, these two statements, amongst other factual allegations, evidenced Billittier’s intent to gift the ring to Clark. The ring was no longer deemed to be given in contemplation of marriage because he did not immediately ask for its return and also because it was referred to as a “parting gift.”
Billittier called off the wedding because he said Clark refused to sign a prenuptial agreement.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
According to New York State law, an engagement ring, given as a condition of marriage and not as a gift, must be returned to the buyer if marriage is no longer on the table. The premise of this law, is the engagement ring is a “conditional gift” – the condition that a marriage will, in fact, take place. Previous court rulings in New York have also ruled that it does not matter who broke up the engagement, if marriage is no longer on the table, and the ring was not given as a gift, it must be returned to the buyer. This is referred to as a “no-fault based approach.”
According to the ruling, Billittier’s text messages show he changed his mind about Clark keeping the ring, the judge said. Changing his mind was “giver’s remorse .” “Many gifts are given for reasons that sour with the passage of time. Once a gift is given, it is irrevocable,” Buscaglia said. The New York gift law does not allow a donor to recover or revoke a gift simply because the reasons for giving it turn sour.
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOU?
The laws regarding the status of an engagement ring, and requirements to give it back vary state by state. Some states, such as Texas, use a fault based approach which does not require an engagement ring to be returned if the giver calls off the marriage; however, if the recipient calls it off, they have to return the ring. If a ring is given as a gift, and a wedding is called off, the recipient gets to keep the ring. Many circumstances and facts will be taken into account to determine if a ring was given as a gift (i.e. – given on a holiday or birthday).
There are many rules of etiquette which suggest that regardless of who calls off the wedding, a recipient should always return an engagement ring if marriage is no longer on the table. If you are contemplating marriage, or contemplating a break up, please be cognizant of the laws of your state so this occasion may be handled in a smart, delicate and considerate manner, no matter the legal requirements or outcome.
Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com). She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.
Check Out This Gallery Of Our Fave Celebs Rocks!
Our Favorite Celeb Engagement Rocks [PHOTOS]
1. Evelyn Lozada
While we were all opening gifts under the tree on Christmas morning, Crawford proposed to Evelyn Lozada with a 14.5 carat ring designed by Jason of Beverly Hills, the same jeweler who hooked up Dwayne Wade with Gabrielle Union’s bling. Evelyn posted the ring on her Instagram page with the caption, “YES!” http://bit.ly/1fJA8is
2. Gabrielle Union
Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade made it official just four days before Christmas. “Sooooo this happened… #Yessss,” Gabby posted on Instagram, flashing the rock. Read more here: http://bit.ly/1cJFEOO and keep clicking to see more of our favorite celeb sparklers!
3. Kelly Rowland
"He put a ring on it!" Kelly finally admitted during an interview that will appear on "The Queen Latifah Show" Wednesday (December 18)! See how her manger-turned-fiancé Tim Witherspoon popped the question here: http://bit.ly/1gE3hzj
Ciara's found her prince charming in Future! The "Body Party" singer flashed her $500,000 15-carat rock on Instagram. Congrats to her and Future!
5. Kim Kardashian
Third time's a charm! Kanye West popped the question to Kim Kardashian and you guess it, she said yes! Kanye rented out San Francisco's AT&T Park where he got down on one knee and asked for Kimmy Cakee's hand in marriage. "PLEEEASE MARRY MEEE!!!" flashed across the jump screen while Ye' proposed. Kim flashed the ring while joined by family around her. In light of the celebration, we've collaborated a list of the biggest celebrity rocks.
6. Kim Kardashian
Kanye bought his baby's mother a flawless 15-carat diamond ring by celebrity jeweler Lorraine Schwartz. Kim K posted a better look at the ring on her Instagram.
7. Kerry Washington
Kerry Washington flashed her wedding band on the red carpet of the Emmys. She secretly wed her hubby NFL star Nnamdi Asomugha.
Stevie Harvey purchased his wife Marjorie a massive 25-carat ring to adorn her pretty little finger.
9. Naya Rivera
Rapper Big Sean surprised us all when he proposed to his short-term girlfriend an elegant engagement ring. The "Glee" star debuted the cushion cut diamond bordered by a halo and french-set band at the LATINA Magazine party.
10. Mariah Carey
Mariah's hubby Nick Cannon spent $2.5 million on a 14-carat emerald-cut pink diamond surrounded by 58 smaller pink diamonds by jeweler Jacob & Co. for his bride.
11. Khloe Kardashian
Lamar Odom dropped about $850,000 on a 12.5-carat radiant-cut diamond ring for Khloe Kardashian.
Jay Z went to the same jeweler, Lorraine Schwartz, as Kanye West to purchase Beyonce's flawless 18-carat diamond ring. Bey's rock is worth more than $5 million.
13. Wendy Williams
At 7-carats, media Mogul Wendy Williams has one of the biggest rings of all time. "The stone originally was maybe 3 carats, but he replaced it in our seventh year," she said.
14. Savannah Brinson
Sometimes less is better. Lebron James splurged on his longtime partner, $300,000 pear-shaped, center diamond cut ring.
15. Chrissy Teigen
John Legend and Chrissy Teigen recently walked down the aisle following his InterludesLive performance on TV One. Chrissy donned a cushion-cut diamond engagement ring.
16. La La Anthony
Carmelo Anthony is such a great husband. The New York Knick upgraded La La's original ring to this huge 20-carat rock. “Well I was surprised that I was given a ring. This summer will make nine years that my husband and I have been together total. He just wanted to do something special and I appreciate it,” La told Lady Bitchie. “You know it’s not really about the material things to me. It’s about the thought behind it.”
17. Yandy Smith
Remember when Mendeeces proposed to Yandy Smith on "Love & Hip Hop New York"? Ugh, so romantic. Yandy's ring is definitely on our list of favorite rocks.
Brandy recently got engaged to her boyfriend (who happens to look a whole lot like Laz Alonzo) when he dropped down on one knee and presented her with this fancy ringlet.
19. Evelyn Lozada
Evelyn's boyfriend of one year LA Dodger, Carl Crawford proposed to her with this 14.5 carat sparkler in hand. The ring isn't shabby at all and, with a $1.4 million price tag, it's hard to ignore. Congrats!