Dear Carolyn,

So my husband and I got married without rings because my ring wasn’t ready. My husband bought the rings out of his paycheck after we were married. I was not working. We are now going through a divorce. He still owes on the rings. He filed the divorce because I had to get an emergency order of protection on him, so he filed. Is the ring debt considered marital debt? Are the rings marital or non-marital property?


Carolyn Answers,

Frequently, rings are a volatile and emotionally charged issue in divorces.

The rings are marital property. The ring debt is a marital debt. In North Carolina, gifts to your spouse are rarely considered separate property, unless the gift is accompanied by a written statement that expresses the intent to make the ring that spouse’s separate property. The debt was incurred during the marriage, so it is also marital in all likelihood. I suppose one could argue the debt was not incurred for the joint benefit of the couple, but it sounds like you both wanted rings.

Rings purchased before the marriage and given to the intended before the wedding are separate property. If the debt is incurred before the marriage, it also remains a separate debt of the debtor spouse.

One additional thought: You say, “my ring wasn’t ready.” My answer assumes the ring was purchased after the marriage. If your ring was ordered before the wedding and received after the marriage, that raises the complex topic of whether the rings are part separate property/debt and part marital property/debt.




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