This mini episode is going to address how people handle family heirlooms and jewelry and other objects of value, both of financial and of emotional significance, in their divorce. It's not uncommon during a marriage that the parents or family members of one of the spouses will gift some sort of family heirloom or piece of jewelry to the other spouse. And oftentimes people are faced with a challenge when they're going through a divorce, that they are not sure what to do about that object. It was a gift to the one spouse, but it's also – it was a gift in the context of the spouses being married – and it's also an item of emotional significance to the family of the gifting spouse.
What I see many people do when they have children, is make a commitment in the agreement that – let's say, it was the father's mom, so the mother-in-law, who gifted some earrings to the mom and now they're – the dad and the mom are going through divorce. If they have kids, oftentimes, there will be a commitment that the mom will either return the gift to the father, but most often, where there are kids, I see a commitment that the mom will hold onto the gift for the child or children and then will gift the earrings, in this case, to the couple's children so that they – in the father's eyes and the mother-in-law's eyes – they're still staying in the family, which is often their greatest concern.
Sometimes when something is not a family heirloom but it was a gift between spouses, even prior to the marriage – for instance, an engagement ring – which can be a very valuable piece of jewelry (though, sadly, often not nearly as valuable as it was on the day that you bought it). But still, engagement rings often have a substantial value, and there could be conflict between spouses about what's meant to happen to the engagement ring. It was a gift to the wife before the marriage, so from a legal perspective, it's considered hers.
However, oftentimes the couple will agree to a number of things. One is to return the ring, which is, I would say, less common. Then, some people agree to sell the ring, and then either share the proceeds or, if they have children, to contribute the proceeds, for instance, to a 529 or other college savings account. Or, similar to the family heirloom, if the recipient of the jewelry or the gift will make a commitment, in the agreement, that that piece of jewelry or that particular heirloom or gift will be gifted to the party's children, then it can be something that the other spouse feels okay about because it's not being lost to the family, it's just being held by one of the spouses until it's passed on to the younger generation.
That is our mini episode on Family Heirlooms and Jewelry. I hope this was helpful for you.