What Happens to The Art Collection in A Divorce?

By Jones & Associates Law P.C.

An extensive art collection can be a key point of contention during a divorce. For those that are art collectors, art pieces can hold a great deal of financial and sentimental value. In equitable distribution states like Pennsylvania, courts will determine the value of these items and distribute the property fairly and equitably.

How Is Artwork Divided Between Spouses?

Courts will consider several factors when deciding how to equitably distribute the artwork in a divorce. Courts will consider the following when making this determination.

Is the Artwork Separate or Marital Property?

As part of the property division process, all assets of value must be categorized as either separate or marital property. Generally, an art piece brought into the marriage by one spouse or a piece that only one spouse inherited is considered separate property and will not be divided in the divorce. However, artwork that was purchased during the marriage or with marital funds will be considered marital property and may be divided in the divorce. It is important to note that if a spouse contributes financially or otherwise to a separate piece of art and increases its value, that piece may become marital property.

What Is the Value of The Artwork?

The value of artwork likely has increased or decreased since you first purchased it. That is why determining the fair market value of a piece at the time of a divorce is an important part of the distribution process. Divorcing couples should have their art appraised to determine the current value of a piece. You and your spouse may choose to have just one appraiser, or you can each hire your own, with the understanding that different appraisers may value the same piece differently. Selling the artwork may also be a good way to determine the true value of a piece.

Is There a Prenuptial Agreement?

Some couples include provisions in their prenuptial agreements to specifically address the artwork acquired separately and during the marriage. The prenup can provide guidance for dividing up the artwork if the time comes.

Dividing up the property in a high-asset divorce is never easy, especially when the property values change over time. However, a family law attorney can make sure your interests are protected throughout the process and give you the best chance at holding on to the art pieces you love the most.