Florida Record

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Appeals court says woman's ring is pre-marital property

By Charmaine Little | Apr 12, 2017

General court 06

DAYTONA BEACH — The 5th District Court of Appeal has said in its opinion that a Florida woman's engagement ring was pre-marital property in a divorce case to determine the equitable distribution of jewelry.  

The former couple from Orange County was in court to decide whether the ring that John C. Gainey gave his then-fiancee, Frances Fawcett, should be counted in their jewelry equity. 

The court sided with Fawcett in the opinion. It described a discrepancy in which Gainey first listed the jewelry equity to be valued at $10,000 while the two were in trial court. But his own counsel said that without the ring, that is valued at $3,500-$4,000 in the opinion, it should only be about six thousand. 

“I think we can all agree that ($3),500 to ($)4,000 of (the $10,000.00) is a non-marital engagement ring that was given to her before the marriage," the lawyer said according to the opinion. "So that drops it down to about six grand.”

Still, things didn’t line up in the final dissolution.

“The wife has jewelry with an approximate marital value of $10,000 as of the date of the filing," the court ruled. "That jewelry should remain the property of the wife as equitable distribution."

The appeals court agreed that this was not in agreement with the husband’s claim that the engagement ring was considered a pre-marital gift and is therefore a nonmarital asset. He also concurred that the ring was worth $6,000.

Considering this, the court reversed and remanded the final judgement from the trial court.

“Since the husband agreed that the wife’s engagement ring was a pre-marital gift and, thus, a non marital asset, and he agreed that the remaining jewelry was valued at $6,000, we reverse and remand for the entry of an amended final judgment increasing the husband’s equalizing payment by $2,000," the opinion said.

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Fifth District Court of Appeal