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Suing Your Ex-Fiancé for the Engagement Ring

Of course, we understand. You ditched her and now she refuses to give back the triple diamond engagement ring that was your mother’s from her first marriage that didn’t work out. See you in court.

What’s It Worth to You?

Breaking up may be hard to do, but it comes with its own set of emotional and financial ties. Depending on how far along your wedding plans were, you could be entitled to damages in Ontario Superior Court of Justice. 

Promises, Promises

You can’t bring a lawsuit for breach of promise to marry or emotional damages for the psychic injuries you suffered. Ontario’s Marriage Act doesn’t allow it. But your breakup could be a tort if it caused you financial damage.

Valuing Family Heirlooms

Starting with the engagement ring, it’d be helpful if you had it appraised for the insurance or your mother could recall what it was worth when she received it. Taking a photo to an jeweler for an opinion can be useful.

Who Paid for What

How about those wedding ceremony expenses? Renting the church and banquet hall, the limos and your tux. Hiring a wedding planner. Putting down a deposit for the flowers, photographer and caterer. Hopefully you kept itemized receipts, because the court could require your fiancé to share any upfront expenses equally.

Gifting an Engagement Ring

A gift is a gift or is it? Engagement rings are entwined in tradition. Miss Manners, etiquette expert Judith Martin, would advise you gentle reader that “an obviously explicit present — an engagement ring (of whatever carat) — should always be returned.” (Mercury News, Aug. 8, 2019)

What the Courts Might Say

Not so according to case law, that set of court decisions Ontario judges refer to. Suppose your fiancé broke off the engagement. Since you gave her the ring, she must return it to you (the donor). Unfortunately, you broke off the engagement. Unless you demanded the ring back during the break up or immediately afterward, consider it gone. Delaying can make the ring a gift. 

Making a Counter Argument

You argue the ring is a cherished family heirloom that’s been in your family for decades. It’s your mother’s ring. It has sentimental value as a symbol of your parent’s commitment, before the divorce. You only gave it to your fiancé because you earnestly believed she loved you. You feel betrayed, in more ways than one.

Preparing Your Affidavit and Exhibits

Now you’re speaking our language. Time to prepare your court affidavit with exhibits. The affidavit is a written statement of facts you swear are true, to the best of your ability. You have personal knowledge of the facts, such as how much the ring is worth and its heritage. Can you back that up with some exhibits?

What Makes a Court Exhibit

When you write an affidavit, you usually include exhibits — photos or videos of the engagement ring, emails to or from your fiancé, records of wedding preparations, audio tapes of voice mails, copies of receipts or any documents you think will make your case. Attach photocopies and bring the originals to court. Stick to the facts if you can and be as complete as possible. 

Labelling Court Exhibits

Exhibits are labelled in the order they appear in your affidavit. For example, “This is Exhibit A referred to in the affidavit of (insert your name) sworn or affirmed on (_______, 20__) by (signature of the Ontario notary public for taking affidavits).”

How Exhibits Are Used in Court

Your testimony is your chance to address exhibits you included in the affidavit. Present a copy to the court clerk to give to the judge. Provided you attached it to your affidavit, your fiancé or their lawyer can refer to their copy. Physical objects such as the ring itself may be introduced at the hearing. Ask your fiancé if she is willing to bring the ring and the judge for permission to present it as a trial exhibit.

Asking Witnesses to Identify Exhibits

You may request witnesses to identify documents from the witness stand. Give the document to the court clerk to mark for identification and show to the judge. The clerk will mark the document or object as an exhibit after your witness identifies it.

What to do If You Forget an Exhibit

With the court’s consent, you may get a chance to present new exhibits during the hearing. It’s up to the judge if they allow you to proceed. If that’s your plan, tell your fiancé or their lawyer before the hearing that you have new information you want to present in court. Bring four copies with you — one to be stamped as an exhibit and the others for the judge, your fiancé or their lawyer and yourself. Give the court clerk your new exhibit and speak to why it’s important. 

The Fait Accompli, Your Prenuptial Agreement

Perfect! You made a prenuptial agreement, got independent legal advice — and have the ILA certificate to prove it — and signed it before witnesses. It’s a legally binding contract. If you included who keeps the ring in a breakup, you definitely want to bring a copy into court as Exhibit A. Your chances of getting the ring back just got better.

Getting an Affidavit to Go to Court

Axess Law’s Ontario notary publics can witness, sign and seal court affidavits by video conference 7 days a week, day or evening. Make an online video call by dialing 877-522-9377 or in Greater Toronto 647-479-0118 or use our online booking form. Fully licensed notary publics are available to meet in person at our Ottawa, Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan, Etobicoke, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland law offices.

Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s notary public services.

Photo by dusa 2019|Pixabay.

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