By Gerri Elder
On bended knee, with love and adoration shining in his eyes, he takes her hand and pops the life changing question. While he nervously recites the words that he's carefully thought through and planned out, he pulls a small velvet box from his pocket and lifts the lid to show her what's inside. The sparkling diamond ring was chosen especially for her, should she accept his marriage proposal.
So the romantic story goes. Sometimes a beautiful wedding follows the engagement, but in other cases the couple never makes it to the altar. So, in those cases, what happens to the ring? He gave it to her, right? Well, yes and no.
As one would-be bride has discovered, an engagement ring is not just a gift, it's a conditional gift. It is a present that comes with major strings attached.
The Tennessee Court of Appeals recently ruled that if you don't get married, you are not entitled to keep the engagement ring. The ruling is said to be the first of its kind in Tennessee, with a decision that said that when a wedding is called off, the person who gave the engagement ring has the right to get it back.
But what if the ring is given on Christmas Day? Yep, it still comes with the strings, although other courts have made the opposite decision where a birthday or other holiday was involved.
Catharyn Campbell, a reporter for WSMV in Nashville, Tennessee, was proposed to by her boyfriend, Jason Crippen, on Christmas Day, 2005. He asked her to marry him and she accepted his marriage proposal. He slipped a diamond engagement ring onto her finger that very day.
Sadly, Campbell and Crippen's relationship did not last. They did not have to duke it out in divorce court though, they broke up and the wedding was canceled. Crippen asked Campbell to give the engagement ring back to him. Campbell said no way, that she believed that the ring was a Christmas gift and that she intended to keep it. Perhaps she wanted to put it in a little wedding ring coffin and bury the whole affair, but Crippen was not willing to let it go like that. So, while the couple did not have to get a divorce, they still ended up in court after their break up.
Crippen decided to sue Campbell to get the ring back. He filed a lawsuit against her in Knox County, Tennessee. A Knox County Circuit Court judge heard the case and after listening to both sides of the story he ruled that the ring was a gift and that Campbell did not have to give it back.
Apparently Crippen was not as willing to let go of the engagement ring as he was his relationship with Campbell. He filed an appeal to get the ring back.
The Court of Appeals, in a unanimous opinion, agreed with Crippen that an engagement ring is a conditional gift, and has now ordered Campbell to return the engagement ring to him.