Engagement rings must be returned if the marriage does not happen

The Supreme Court of Viriginia held that engagement rings are conditional gifts given in contemplation of marriage and that, when the marriage is called off, the ring donor has a right to have the ring returned. McGrath v. Dockendorf, 2016 Va. LEXIS 187 (Va. 2016). The technical holding of the case was that such claims are not barred by the "heart balm" statute, Va. Code § 8.01-220, that precludes claims for breach of promise to marry.

Older cases held that engagement ring gifts were permanent but the modern approach is to view them as conditional and this court follows the modern trend.