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Considerations for Dividing a Rare Book Collection in a High Asset Divorce

Posted on in High Asset Divorce

TX divorce attorneyWhen you are going through a high asset divorce in Texas, the prospect of dividing valuable collections in your divorce can be devastating. Married couples in the Austin area often acquire many different types of collections that they consider to be priceless, from paintings and sculptures to rare vinyl records and books. Given that one of the points of the collection is to keep it intact, it can be extremely difficult to consider having a collection pieced apart and sold because you are getting divorced. The following are some important considerations for dividing a rare book collection in a high net worth divorce, including possibilities for keeping the collection intact.

Know How Property is Divided Under Texas Law

Texas is a community property state. As a community property state, any property that spouses acquire during their marriage is owned jointly by them as “community property.” Generally speaking, Texas courts will divide community property equally between the spouses recognizing that both have equal interests in the property. However, courts ultimately divide property in a manner that is equitable to both parties, or “just and right,” given their particular circumstances.

If you acquired any part of the rare book collection after the date of marriage, it will likely be classified as community property and subject to division. Exceptions may include a rare book inherited by one of the spouses during the marriage or a gift given only to one of the spouses during the marriage. Any part of the collection acquired prior to the date of marriage usually will be classified as separate property and will not be divided.

Gather Records and Documents Related to Your Collection

If any portion of your rare book collection will be classified as community property, it is important to take steps now to gather records and documents related to the collection, including:

  • Sales receipts, including the date of purchase and price amount;
  • Provenance information about each of the pieces in the collection (i.e., who owned the book before it came into your possession); and
  • Valuation information, including any previous valuations you have had done on the collection for insurance purposes or otherwise.

Hire an Independent Valuation Expert

Valuing a rare book collection can be extremely complicated. There are various reasons that a book can be considered “rare,” from its age to its limited number to its condition to its provenance. For example, you may have an ordinary, second-edition paperback of a novel that has no significant value on its own, but it may have been owned and read by a prominent writer who won a Nobel Prize. Then, the provenance of the novel could make it especially rare and valuable. Accordingly, it is essential to have your collection valued and appraised by an expert. Your Austin, TX high net worth divorce lawyer can help you to locate an expert appraiser who can properly value your collection. You will need to have it appraised to ensure that the court properly values it, and to use its market value when considering your options for a divorce settlement.

Consider a Divorce Settlement

While the division of community property in Texas can result in complex property litigation in divorce and a complex divorce case in general, it may be possible to avoid a situation in which the court divides community property. If you really want to keep your rare book collection intact and do not want to the court either to divide it between the spouses or to order the collection sold with the profit divided, you may be able to work out a property settlement with your spouse. Keep in mind, however, that you may need to keep up other valuable property in order to keep the rare book collection. You should contact an Austin high asset divorce lawyer who can speak with you about the options that may be available to you.

Contact a High Asset Divorce Attorney in Austin, TX

If you are concerned about the distribution of a valuable collection in your divorce, an aggressive Austin high asset divorce lawyer can assist you. An experienced complex child custody attorney and complex litigation attorney at our firm can help with additional needs in your Austin, TX high net worth divorce. Contact Powers and Kerr, PLLC today.

 

Sources:

https://guides.sll.texas.gov/community-property

https://www.chicagotribune.com/consumer-reviews/sns-bestreviews-education-how-to-determine-the-value-of-rare-books-20190404-story.html

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