Jewellery settlement is a serious issue when it comes to divorce and separation issues. Especially when it comes to separation after a long marriage, there are a lot of joint assets, family heirlooms involved.
Some of you might think it is a trivial matter, but in many cases, jewellery can become a huge point of contention between divorcing couples. For instance, an expensive diamond necklace set is-given-as a gift, or a bunch of wedding jewellery can amount to a significant financial value. In fairness, jewellery in divorce settlements shouldn’t be overlooked.
What Pieces of Jewellery is Considered During Divorce Settlements?
Before the Married Women’s Property Act of 1882, wives had to return all the jewellery obtain ed or gift ed by their husbands during a marriage breakdown. That included engagement rings, wedding rings and other jewellery gifted to her. These items weren’t consider-ed a wife’s property but were a part of her decoration.
Fortunately, times have mov ed on and so has the law. Women are treat-ed more favourab ly and women are allow-ed to keep these items even after divorce.
Usually, now the wife gets to keep all the jewellery as her property after divorce unless an intention is establish ed by her partner to return the items. Sometimes, if the couple has a pre-nuptial agreement before marriage, there are clauses on what jewellery to return in the event of divorce.
Does That Include Gifts Exchanged by The Couple During The Marriage?
It is not uncommon for married or engaged couples to exchange gifts—necklaces, rings, watches, and others aside from the engagement ring itself.
Now there are two situations. After the marriage, usually the jewellery goes to the wife. If the gifts include heirlooms or antique pieces, the husband can contest as it would be family property.
If the engagement is calle-d off, according to the Law Reform Act of 1970, engagement rings are-held-as absolute gifts. So, unless, there was an express or implied statement before the engagement that it should be return,ed if the marriage doesn’t happen, the law cannot force to return the item.
However, in particular cases like family heirloom jewellery, the story is different. If an engagement ring has been pass-ed down for generations, it isn’t consider ed an absolute gift. For antique jewellery, usually, they have jewellery valuations done. So, in case the marriage is off, there is room for argument that the heirloom is a family property that was-given-on the condition of marriage happening.
How Jewellery is Contested in Family Courts?
If there are no proper documents between the divorcing couple to amicably resolve the issue of jewellery, it goes to financial proceedings in court.
Form E is a document that supports all the financial and estate properties in complete detail:
- Banks accounts
- Investments and policies
- Personal assets
- Business investments and interests
Jewellery along with other personal belongings like cars, furniture, antique pieces belong to personal assets.
Now, if a couple has an antique jewellery collection as a part of their investment, it will be consider ed an investment rather than personal belongings. During these cases, the jewellery is significantly more valuable than other assets. Thus, it needs to be address ed separately.
How to Avoid A Future Dispute over Jewellery?
Well, nobody likes to think about divorce when starting a new life but divorces aren’t unheard of in marriages.
To avoid contention, it is best to have legal agreements that express how the jewellery will-be-dealt with during a divorce. This can be in pre-nuptial agreement or even post-nuptial agreement. A lot of it also depends on the value of jewellery both parties have financially and sentimentally.
For example, if you have a habit of collecting vintage jewellery, it is wise to get jewellery valuation done from experts like Prestige Valuations. By doing so, you might save yourself from a lot of legal complications in case of a marriage breakdown.