The good times seem so far away when you’re at the end of the road in relationships. There’s no doubt that there are more logistics to handle when you are a cohabiting couple and the division of what belongs to whom can get real messy during a split. Separated partners have fought over items as minuscule as kitchen cutlery resulting from an emotionally charged split. At that point, it’s less about what’s fair and more to do with a sense of entitlement. It’s probably one of few things that can turn an otherwise reasonable person into a maniac.
Take for example Jessica Bennett and her ex fiancée Charlie Zampieri who made headlines on CBC news last month during a court battle over her $16,500 engagement ring. The couple that met on an online dating site and getting engaged after just three short weeks argued that they each should be the rightful owner of the ring. The breakdown of the argument is as follows:
- The ring is not a gift
- Bennett broke a contractual agreement of marriage
Bennett argues that:
- Zampieri wasn’t willing to give her his kidneys
- He owed her money so the ring is fair play
- It has symbolic meaning. According to Bennett, “It would symbolize maybe the man that loved me — that didn't do the right thing”
The real grey area is really a battle between the idealist and realist. A judge will have to make the decision on whether the ring was a gift (which is a romantic notion) or if it was a symbol of contractual agreement towards marriage (realist). It hardly seems right that we’re comparing kidneys to jewelry. It pushes you to question what happened to the good old days when life lessons were all you gained from a breakup. Furthermore, even if you feel you are entitled to something doesn’t necessarily mean you actually are.
Some people argue that relationships have evolved and so should the laws to protect the rights and assets of each partner. Cohabiting couples are now able to enjoy the same “privileges” awarded to a married couple according to the Family Law Act appointed in March 2013. According to this act, as long as a couple has been in a “marriage like relationship” for two years or more, the distribution of accumulated assets will be divided equally.
Perhaps Zampieri and Bennett are cases that serve as a cautionary tale on the cost of relationship dissolution or the example of self-serving behavior. Whichever it is, I think it’s safe to say that you better be sure you want to spend the rest of your life with your partner before you put a ring on it.
Amy Yew is a registered clinical counselor and relationship therapist. Tell us what you think and submit any questions you have to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also tweet your thoughts on Twitter @AmyYew.
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