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Division of Art in a High Asset Divorce

 Posted on April 19, 2018 in Complex Divorce

Texas divorce lawyerMany couples who get divorced are able to agree on who will retain what property. However, the more unusual assets and collectibles a couple has, the harder it becomes to appraise them and determine who should retain ownership, especially when an item has an extremely high value or has a special meaning to one of the spouses. While this could include jewelry, as well as antiques, more and more families are investing in artwork, which means that in most cases, if the couple divorces, the property will need to be divided equitably.

Appraisals and proof of purchase are critical to the outcome of these types of conflict, as courts consider property obtained prior to a marriage to be the sole property of the original owner. Even when a piece of art was purchased after divorce, one party could have a strong claim to it if it was given as a gift or was part of an inheritance. Because dividing unusual assets, such as artwork, is so difficult, retaining an experienced high asset divorce attorney is critical to ensuring that all of a couple’s property is fairly and promptly divided upon divorce.

Preparatory Steps

Couples who own valuable artwork and have decided to get divorced should take a few different steps, including:

  • Developing an inventory of all of the couple’s artwork, including a detailed list of when the pieces were purchased and at what price;
  • Obtaining an accurate valuation of the pieces from a professional appraiser, gallery owner, or art dealer;
  • Reviewing any premarital agreements for language concerning the division of artwork in the event of divorce; and
  • Collecting all records of invoices, bills, and receipts from the time of purchase.

The Importance of Appraisals

The appraisal process is especially important when it comes to dividing valuable assets, such as artwork. Many couples choose to use a single appraiser when valuing their pieces, although it is possible for each party to obtain a separate valuation and then negotiate for a value somewhere between the two or let a judge decide which estimate is appropriate. Once a value has been placed on an item, couples have a number of different choices, including:

  • Splitting up the artwork according to their monetary value, so that each spouse receives a roughly proportionate share;
  • Allowing one spouse to keep all of the artwork in exchange for another asset, such as a vacation home or a vehicle; and
  • Selling the pieces and dividing the profits equally.

Which option is best for a couple depends on their specific circumstances, so if you own valuable artwork and cannot decide who should keep it after your divorce, please call an attorney for advice.

Get Legal Advice Today

For help ensuring that your own valuable artwork is properly appraised and divided, please reach out to Powers and Kerr, PLLC to speak with an experienced Georgetown high asset divorce attorney about your questions and concerns. We are prepared to assist you today.




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