After divorce, wedding ring belongs to your ex-wife

Richard Alderman

Q. I have been married for three years. I’m now getting a divorce. There is no property or custody to fight over, but I would like the wedding ring I gave my wife. It belonged to my grandmother and is very special to me. Do I need to get a lawyer to have her turn over the ring?

A. In my opinion, you are not going to get the ring unless your wife agrees, with or without a lawyer. Generally, the person who received the ring keeps it after a divorce. A wedding ring is considered a gift to the person who received it. A lawyer may be able to help arrange a better divorce settlement, but you should weigh the costs of a lawyer against the value of the ring. My advice is to discuss this with your wife, explain how important the ring is, and see if you can work out an agreement for it to be returned.

Q. My friend got a three-day eviction notice last week. Doesn’t he have 30 days to vacate, or can the landlord make him leave after the three days? He is afraid all his possessions will be put out on the street.

A. The answer depends on whether your friend has a lease for a specific period of time, and whether he has paid his rent. If your friend has a lease, he cannot be evicted until the end of the lease term. Without a lease for a specific period of time, he would be considered a month-to-month tenant. With a lease, he gets the notice provided for in the lease, usually 30-60 days, before the end of the lease. If he is a month-to-month tenant, he is entitled to 30 days notice.

If he breaks the lease, however — for example, by not paying rent — he can be immediately evicted with three-days notice. His property, however, may not be just put out on the street. If he doesn’t leave, the landlord can go to court and have him and his property removed from the apartment. This process usually takes about two weeks. The landlord does not have the right to just throw him out or lock him out. Look at the landlord tenant material on my website for much more information, www.peopleslawyer.net.

Q. What are my rights if I have a common law marriage? If we get divorced, will I have any right to his property?

A. As I have said many times before, a common law marriage is no different than any other marriage. You are married. To have a common law marriage you must agree to be married, hold yourself out as married, and live together as married. Once you establish a common law marriage, your right to share your husband’s property is the same as any other spouse. If you get divorced, you will share all “community property,” which basically is anything either of you obtain while you were married.

Q. Can someone who puts a house on the market refuse to sell the house to me after I offer to buy it for exactly what he was asking? Don’t we have a contract?

A. Good question. As far as the law is concerned, you do not have a contract when you offer to buy a house at the asking price. Your “offer to buy” the house is just that – an “offer.” The seller may accept it or reject it. Until your offer is accepted, there is no contract. By putting the house on the market, the seller is merely soliciting offers; he is not making an offer to sell. As a buyer, you are the one making the offer. Although most sellers will accept an offer at their asking price, there is no legal requirement that they do so.

Q. I co-signed for my brother so he could buy a car. He stopped making payments and the car was repossessed. They sold the car and now say I owe $7,000. How do I get my name off of this agreement?

A. You don’t! As I have written many times before, if you co-sign, you have basically the same liability as the person for whom you co-signed. If he doesn’t pay, you are responsible. Once you co-sign, you cannot be released from your obligation unless the creditor agrees. In other words, you now have the same liability as your brother.

In most cases, a creditor does not ask for a co-signer unless the creditor has a reason to believe the person who signed won’t pay, or won’t have the assets to pay if sued. If you are asked to co-sign, there is a good chance you will be called upon to pay.

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