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TX high asset divorce lawyerWhile the art scene in Austin is not quite like the art scenes in New York or London, many Austin residents have large collections of valuable artwork, including sculptures, paintings, and other art objects. Many married couples in Austin collect art together, and their homes are filled with their collection. In the event such a married couple decides to get divorced, the matter of the art collection can become extremely contentious. Dividing an art collection can be quite a battle, especially when the parties do not want to see the collection divided at all. To be sure, many people who collect art feel that the collection is priceless and do not want to see any of it sold or distributed. Yet in a high asset divorce in Austin, all community property will need to be distributed between the spouses. And while the parties may personally believe that the collection is priceless, it is possible to place a market value on almost any work of art for the purposes of dividing it in a divorce. Let our Texas high asset divorce lawyers tell you more about dividing art collections in a Texas divorce.

Recognize That the Whole Collection May Be Community Property

As you may know, Texas is a community property state. What does this mean for a high asset divorce and an expensive art collection? Under Texas law, nearly all property (aside from a few exceptions) acquired after the date of the marriage is classified as “community property.” In a Texas divorce, all community property is divided between the spouses. For many married couples in Austin who have been collecting art for years or even decades, most if not all of the collection is likely to be classified as community property and will be divided as part of the divorce.

Determine the Date of Purchase and Other Documentation

If you believe that one or more pieces in the art collection are not community property, you will need to get documentation to prove it. If you purchased the painting prior to the marriage, it is important to find any receipts you have for the piece. Even if you cannot locate a receipt, it may be possible to work with your Austin divorce attorney to gather evidence that proves the painting was in your possession long before you got married and that, accordingly, it should not be part of the division of community property.

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TX divorce lawyerWhen considering divorce, many couples go into the property settlement process with the expectation that they will be required to parcel out certain personal possessions, decide who will retain the family home, and divide up the contents of any bank accounts. However, this task becomes much more difficult for couples with unique or costly assets, such as fine artwork, which can be difficult to appraise. Fortunately, the advent of digital valuation tools has made this process simpler, although divorcing couples are still encouraged to obtain an in-person appraisal from an expert before going forward with the property division process. To learn more about the different methods of asset appraisal available to you, please contact an experienced high asset divorce attorney who can advise you.

Appraisal Factors

Appraising fine art tends to be difficult, as it can actually have a number of monetary values. These values are determined primarily by assessing the market in which the work was sold or is to be offered for sale, which includes galleries, auctions, and art fairs. Appraisers then evaluate the data derived from sales of comparable items in similar galleries to determine a rough approximation of a piece’s value.

When selecting artwork with which to compare a piece, appraisers consider a variety of factors, including:

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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

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