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Who gets the artwork in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Dec 14, 2018 | Equitable Distribution |

Bidding adieu to artwork can be one of the most devastating aspects of divorce for some couples. Some pieces you might have collected on your travels, while others you might have received as a gift for one of your anniversaries. These pieces are likely special to both you and your spouse, which can create an issue in the event of a divorce.

Like other marital property, each couple generally has an equal claim to artwork. The laws of equitable distribution require each spouse to receive a similar distribution of marital assets. Unfortunately, artwork cannot be divided as easily as other assets.

While some couples might have several works of art by the same artist, it does not always make it any easier. Not only can pieces be completely different from each other, but many art lovers like to keep their collections together.

As such, courts will look at a variety of factors when determining which art pieces go to each spouse. Some of these factors can include:

  • Did the spouses purchase the artwork before or during marriage?
  • Did one spouse gift the artwork to the other spouse for a special occasion?
  • Did one spouse purchase the artwork with non-marital assets?
  • Did one spouse inherit the artwork?
  • Did one of the spouses create the artwork?

Likely, if the artwork was an inheritance or gift, the recipient might be able to keep the art. Additionally, the art would likely belong to a spouse who purchased the art prior to marriage or using separate assets. However, it can become even more complex when it comes to artwork created by one of the spouses. While you would naturally assume that the creator would be able to keep the art, this is not always the case.

Dividing marital property can be a complicated process, especially if you have a special connection to certain pieces. You will need to hire a valuation expert to determine the value of your art that will be divided. An experienced divorce attorney can help you find a trusted valuation expert and assist you in dividing your marital estate.

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