What Happens to Your Art in a Divorce?

During a divorce, the court will divide your home, your bank accounts, and the other valuable possessions you have acquired during your marriage in a way that it views as “equitable.” If your marital possessions include valuable artwork, receiving your fair share could depend on your art collection’s worth.

Know what your art is worth.

You may consider your art collection priceless—after all, you have invested money, time, and passion into creating your collection. Still, your financial health after a divorce may depend on determining your art collection’s value. The value of each painting, sculpture, or other work will depend on a wide variety of different factors, including:

  • The artist
  • The rarity of the piece
  • The condition of the piece, including any restoration work
  • The history of the piece, including any notable previous owners
  • The subject matter of the work

The price you paid for the piece may not reflect its current work as the piece may have increased in value in the time after it was purchased. Working with an experienced appraiser will determine the true value of your collection, and working with a trustworthy appraiser will give the court reason to respect your appraisal if your spouse contests the value of a work.

Depending on the value of your collection, you may divide it in a variety of different ways. You and your spouse could take pieces of approximately equal value, you may sell some of your artwork and split the proceeds or allow your spouse to take other valuable assets to keep possession of the artwork you prize.

Can you protect your art from a divorce?

While the court may consider your art marital property in a divorce, it is possible to address your art collection in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. This can identify your collection or individual pieces within it as your separate property and protect them from future issues.

If you wonder how the court will handle your artwork in a divorce, it can be essential to speak to an attorney with experience in dividing complex and valuable assets. They can help you create a legal strategy that protects the art you prize.

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