I am currently negotiating for a divorce. My husband has been in the diamond business for many years and always gave me presents of gems which I would have made up into rings or earrings as the fancy took me. I have a large quantity of gems left. He now claims that all these are joint, marital property and not my own personal property. Is he right ?By: דיאנה שאלתיאל•Published on: 12 May, 2022
The whole issue of presents given during marriage, especially jewellery and precious items, is far from being clear cut. What determines whether presents given by one party to the other during the marriage are gifts is the intention of the parties. This is to be learnt from their behaviour and from the particular circumstances. Property regarded as marital property is to be balanced out between the parties, according to the 1973 Spouses’ Property Relations Law, whereas gifts given by one to the other remain personal property, are not to be balanced out between them.
Several possibilities exist regarding jewellery and precious items – these could have been intended to be given as a gift, as an investment or even part of business stock. What appears to be the case here is that the gems made up into items of jewelry according to the wife’s instructions would appear to be intended as gifts, in which case her husband would have no right to claim they were joint property. If they were made up for particular occasions like birthdays or wedding anniversaries, this would reinforce the argument that they were intended to be personal presents. Where someone buys a large quantity of gems or gold, or jewelry which is valuable due to its type or quantity , and succeeds in persuading the court that he did so for investment or business purposes, then the court can declare it to be joint property, to be shared between the parties. It does not matter if the other party is allowed to wear it or use it as the intention is what counts.