What to Do with Gifts from Your Ex-Spouse in Divorce

We’ve all seen the commercial spots right before Christmas. The loving husband gives his wife a brand new sports car for Christmas, complete with a huge red bow. Everyone smiles. You can hear Santa chuckling in the background. 

Even if it wasn’t a sports car with a bow, you probably gave or received an expensive gift or memento or two after you said, “I do.” Jewelry. Sporting equipment. Technology devices. Now, you find yourself negotiating a divorce, and you’re having a hard time deciding who is entitled to your marital property. Everything from your home decor to your wedding photos and wedding rings is up for grabs.

Who gets to keep gifts after divorce?

Whether you live in a community property state or an equitable distribution state, the wedding gifts and other items you acquired as a couple are typically considered marital assets. Hence, they must be divided in divorce according to the divorce laws of your state.

But here’s where it gets trickier. States consider gifts differently. Some states consider interspousal gifts (gifts given between spouses) as marital property. Others consider gifts to be separate property if it can be proven that they were gifted.

During your marriage, you may have commingled a gift (separate property) – for example, that shiny sports car with the bow may have been titled in both of your names. Therefore, it is now officially marital property.

Who gets to keep the wedding ring?

Because an engagement ring is a “premarital gift,” it is generally kept by the recipient. But wedding rings can be more complicated – again, state laws determine whether the ring is separate or marital property.

The wedding rings are exchanged during the wedding ceremony, i.e. “during” the marriage, making them marital property. States may also consider who paid for said wedding rings. Bottom line: Who ends up with the rings will depend on the following:

  • The property division rules of the state where you’re divorcing
  • Whether the rings were exchanged before or during the marriage
  • How your state considers interspousal gifts. 

Who gets to keep the car?

Again, state jurisdictions determine whether a vehicle is separate or marital property. In most cases, if it was purchased during the marriage, it will be considered marital property by the court and subject to the state’s property division rules unless you can prove the asset is a gift. 

The state may consider the following about the car:

  • How is the car titled?
  • Are you jointly insuring the car?
  • Can you prove the car was a gift? 

How do you “prove” something was a gift?

When it comes to interspousal gifts, the spouse claiming an asset acquired during the marriage as separate property has the “burden of proof” that it was meant as a gift. In other words, if you want to claim anything that was purchased during the marriage as your separate property, you have to prove it. 

Unless you have something in writing that says the asset was a gift, nothing was expected in return, and that it was given explicitly to you as your separate property, it will generally be considered marital property and subject to property division post-divorce.

Get help with tough property division questions

Property division can be complicated, and you want it to be as fair as possible. But once the issue goes before a judge, it’s no longer in your hands. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. If you and your spouse can negotiate your own property division terms, you may be far better off than letting a judge decide its outcome. Mediation may be your perfect solution.

Read: A Beginner’s Guide to Divorce Mediation

A divorce mediator is a neutral third party who guides a divorcing couple toward compromises during their negotiations. Getting mediation advice can help you and your spouse negotiate your own property division agreement that is fair, legal, and much more affordable than traditional divorce processes. 

If you and your spouse are struggling with property division, Hello Divorce has flat-fee professional services available to you. The assistance of one of our divorce mediators or financial planning professionals may be all you need to resolve your divorce issues without having to spend time and money on a traditional divorce attorney.

We can help you with your new beginning. Schedule a free 15-minute call to see how we can help. 


Divorce Content Specialist
Mediation, Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Mental Health
Candice is a former paralegal and has spent the last 16 years in the digital landscape, writing website content, blog posts, and articles for the legal industry. Now, at Hello Divorce, she is helping demystify the complex legal and emotional world of divorce. Away from the keyboard, she’s a devoted wife, mom, and grandmother to two awesome granddaughters who are already forces to be reckoned with. Based in Florida, she’s an avid traveler, painter, ceramic artist, and self-avowed bookish nerd.