the local law of the forum. See Restatement, Conflicts 2d § 244, comment "9n."
The second issue relating to ownership of the jewelry, whether it became Claire's paraphernalia, presents a true conflict. By statute in New Jersey, a wife's paraphernalia is her separate property. N.J.S.A. 37:2-14. In Florida, there exists no similar statute. Florida then, at the time of the transactions here in question,
presumably followed the common law rule that a husband during his lifetime is the legal owner of the paraphernalia of his wife. See e.g., In re Grant, 10 F. Cas. 5693 (1842).
One spouse's interest in movables acquired by the other spouse during coverture is determined by the law of the State in which the spouses were domiciled at the time the movable was acquired. See Restatement, Conflicts 2d § 258(a)(b). Thus the question whether the jewelry in this case became Claire's paraphernalia should be governed by New Jersey law. VII
A. Claire failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the diamonds were transferred to her as gifts.
B. Undisputed evidence establishes that the diamonds were physically handed to Claire at some time after each purchase. This proof is sufficient to establish the delivery element of a gift transfer. But wanting is clear and convincing evidence that Walter intended to surrender complete control and dominion over the diamonds.
C. No words or conduct indicative of donative intent accompanied any particular transfer. Walter, the alleged donor, informed both his wife and others that the diamonds were to provide future security for himself and his wife. Walter's later failure to deny that he purchased the diamonds "because he loves [Claire] so much" -- even assuming it to be inconsistent with his claim that the diamonds were investments --
must be weighed both in light of the surrounding circumstances and of Claire's analogous admission that Walter purchased the diamonds because "he felt that the economy . . . was going to start deteriorating."
D. Physical dominion over the diamonds, moreover, was not exclusively enjoyed by Claire. Apparently, it was jointly shared by her and Walter. No evidence suggests that she objected to the diamonds being placed in the safe. The safe, however, was within the joint control of Walter and Claire.
E. Claire's later removal of the diamonds to a safe deposit box maintained in her name cannot establish a transfer by gift because Walter was unaware of Claire's conduct when it occurred.
F. Walter's failure to interfere with Claire's use and possession of the diamonds prior to her attempt to leave him in the Orient is not, under the circumstances, inconsistent with his claim of ownership. When Walter discovered that Claire "stole" his diamonds, the Cotiers were experiencing marital difficulties arising from sources other than their rights to the jewelry. They attempted thereafter to resolve those difficulties by taking a pleasure cruise. An attempt by Walter at that time to interfere with his wife's admitted rights to use the jewelry would undoubtedly have undermined the purpose of the cruise. By abstaining from that action until it became more clear that their other marital difficulties were irreconcilable, Walter did not undercut fatally his claim of ownership of the diamonds.
A The Court is also unable to conclude that the diamonds became Claire's paraphernalia. At common law, although a wife could recover her paraphernalia from her husband's estate in the event he predeceased her, a husband during his life was the legal owner of such property. See, e.g., In re Grant, supra.
B. The New Jersey courts, in 1906, were faced with a fact situation similar to the present case. In Farrow v. Farrow, supra, a wife, having separated from her husband, sought to recover from him two pieces of diamond jewelry on the ground that he had transferred them to her as a gift. Testimony was adduced showing that the jewelry was purchased as an investment, that he parted with possession of it, and that she was permitted to wear it. Under these circumstances, the court observed,
. . . the evidence shows that it was purchased by the husband, not as a gift to his wife, but as an investment for their joint benefit, and also for the purpose or ornamenting the wife on suitable occasions, in other words, either it remained the absolute property of the husband or, at most, it became the wife's paraphernalia.