Do I Have to Return Expensive Jewelry My Husband Gave Me During Our Marriage?
My view is that you probably will not have to return expensive jewelry your husband gives you during the marriage but the value of the jewelry could cut against your overall financial interests in the divvying up of the marital property.
Usually, anything bought during the marriage will be marital property. Jewelry essentially is just another asset of the marriage when bought with marital funds. The fact that it is a “gift” could be something you could argue and probably win the argument, that it is yours outright and not marital property. But your spouse could argue that it wasn’t a gift but a loan. I believe I have heard this argument and the spouse could win, depending on the situation.
Some situations are easy. Imagine, for example, you are Princess Kate and Prince William gives you a whole bunch of jewelry during the marriage that you get to wear to all sorts of official functions. It might be tiaras, bracelets, rings, earrings, what have you. Are these bijoux Kate’s to keep if they break up? It depends. Chances are a lot of it is not marital property but a loan and belongs to a family estate of William’s.
“But,” you say “I am not Kate and my husband is not William. We are Americans and we don’t have estate jewelry that belongs to a royal family. My husband bought those jewels for me.” Or “My husband gave me these family jewels as a gift.”
Well, it is a debate. Each case is different and the court will likely have to listen to the peculiar facts of your case and make a determination whether these are gifts or loans in your particular case.
In my view it will not always be deemed to be “gifts.” There are some circumstances, in very high net worth divorces for example where the fortunes come from the coffers of the family and is a generational thing, that jewels could be deemed a “loan” and therefore not marital property. And so, in such a case, chances are you would have to return the jewels to your spouse and would not receive an offset for their value in the distribution of property relative to your divorce.