Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Divorce

Are wedding and engagement rings subject to equitable distribution in a Florida divorce? These assets can hold significant value, so it is no wonder couples seek division of them in a Florida family law case. A recent appellate case, Moody v. Newton, 5D17-1967 (Fla. 5th DCA 2019) answers this question.

In this case, the former wife appealed the trial court’s decision to treat her wedding and engagement rings as marital assets. The appellate opinion noted, “At trial, Former Wife testified that the "ring" actually consisted of three rings, the most valuable of which was the engagement ring with a 2.2 carat stone, a wedding ring, and a third band that she valued at $1000, which they purchased a year after their wedding.”

Ultimately, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s ruling on this issue, holding, “Generally, engagement and wedding rings are gifts to the wife and should not be included in the equitable distribution scheme [. . .] Given the evidence presented at trial, it was error to treat the engagement ring and wedding ring as marital property subject to equitable distribution. On remand, the trial court shall enter an amended judgment excluding the engagement ring and wedding ring from equitable distribution. The third ring, which Former Wife valued at $1000, should be classified as a marital asset, unless the parties stipulate otherwise.” Since engagement and wedding rings are usually purchased prior to the marriage, they are separate property gifts to the other spouse. In this case, because the third ring was purchased during the marriage, it should be classified as a marital asset as ruled by the appellate court.

The former wife also appealed the trial court’s denial of her request for exclusive use and possession of the marital residence until the parties’ youngest child reached the age of majority. In upholding this decision, the appellate court held, “Here, the court found the parties were unable to maintain their marital lifestyle, having incurred over $100,000 in marital debts, and that, with her limited income, it was unlikely Former Wife would be able "to afford and maintain the home over an extended period." See § 61.075(h), Fla. Stat. (2017) (stating that it must be "financially feasible for the parties to maintain the residence until the child is emancipated"). We find the lower court did not abuse its discretion based on the evidence before it.”

If you have questions about what assets may be awarded to you in your Florida divorce, contact a Miami divorce lawyer. Specific advice tailored to your situation can be provided in a consultation.