When (or if) to take off your wedding ring is an interesting question. There are many different perspectives, for sure. Here’s mine:
I remember very well the words I said to my wife (and she to me) on our wedding: “Monica, take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity.”
A wedding ring is a sacramental. It is a symbol of a sacrament — the Sacrament of Marriage. As far I understand, having a ring is not a requirement of the sacrament. It is simply a visible symbol that the sacrament took place. Whether the marriage is valid or not is up to the Tribunal of the Catholic Church, should an annulment be filed, but that’s another topic.
Here’s What the Church Teaches
In the eyes of the Church, you are married whether you wear a ring or not. The ring is given by your spouse as his/her sign of their love and fidelity. So, using that logic, if they are no longer demonstrating their love and fidelity, they have reneged on the promise that the ring represents. A personal decision would have to be made by the ring wearer if their spouse reneged and if it is permanent. If they believe the promise is no longer being honored, it would not be inappropriate to take the ring off. Certainly, a civil divorce would be a clear indication that the spouse is no longer standing behind the promise that the ring conveys.
It is very important to understand that just because one is not wearing a ring does not mean they are no longer married. Ring or no ring, they are required to honor that marriage until they receive an annulment.
I also want to add that it is quite possible for a spouse to recommit to the marriage before, during, or after a divorce. When this happens, it is perfectly appropriate to put the ring back on. After all, it is a sign of an existing reality. I personally know of a couple that was legally divorced for four years and then reconciled. They renewed their vows and started to wear their rings again.
I took my ring off when my divorce proceedings started.