What Happens to Artwork and Collectibles During a Divorce?

painting in gold frame on wall

Whether you started your collection before or after marriage, you may worry about what will happen to artwork and collectibles when you and your spouse are divorced. As such, understanding how California handles the distribution of these assets is crucial. The following blog explores what you must know to help prepare yourself for this process with the assistance of a Los Angeles division of assets attorney. Read on to learn what to expect when your valuables are on the line.

What Is Community Property?

When a married couple obtains an asset, it is considered community or marital property.

Separate property is anything either spouse had before the marriage or inherited or gifted during the union. However, individual property can become marital property if the spouse who owns it comingles it with other marital assets. For example, if one spouse has a business but uses funds from a joint bank account to cover expenses, the enterprise will become community property.

If two spouses cannot come to an agreement on how assets will be divided during a divorce, the courts will follow California’s community property statute. This law states that any asset deemed marital property will be divided equally between spouses, regardless of how much each spouse contributed to the marriage. This differs from equitable distribution, which the majority of states adhere to. Equitable distribution is based on how much each spouse has contributed financially and domestically to the marriage.

How Are Artwork and Collectibles Valued During Divorce?

While some assets, like a bank account, are easy to divide equally, others pose more challenges. Artwork and collectibles, in particular, can be hard to divide due to the fact they must be valued first. Unfortunately, the valuation process can often be a source of contention.

Generally, the spouses will each choose their own appraiser to determine the value of the artwork or collection. If the numbers come back drastically different, they may allow the two appraisers to pick a third for a final opinion. In other cases, they may average the two values.

Once the spouses have the average value of the items in question, they may proceed with distribution. In some cases, the couple may agree to sell the item and split the profits from the sale evenly. However, if one spouse has a particular attachment to the item or collection, they may “buy out” or pay for half of the spouse’s share in the item. Finally, they may offer other assets of equal value to make the compromise fair.

Unfortunately, this process can be challenging to navigate. As such, it’s in your best interest to enlist the assistance of an experienced property distribution attorney with the Zitser Family Law Group as soon as possible. Even if you and your spouse are on amicable terms, having a lawyer to represent you can help ensure the division of your assets is fair. Contact our office today to learn how we can help you.

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