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Dealing with artwork in a divorce

On Behalf of | Feb 25, 2024 | Divorce

Over time, married couples in California adorn their home with art. What starts as a painting or two can quickly turn into rooms or an entire home full of artwork. One occasion when a marital art collection can be stressful is when divorce looms.

Gather evidence about art purchase dates

California is a community property state, meaning that married adults have equal ownership rights over assets acquired during a marriage. That said, this rule generally doesn’t apply to assets someone purchased before a marriage. That’s why, whether you’re dealing with property division or dividing an art collection, purchase dates are crucial. Look for receipts, invoices or other documentation proving you purchased art before a marriage to protect it from being up for division. Bear in mind, however, that any appreciation in value that occurred during the marriage would likely be deemed community property.

Understand your most beloved pieces

Nearly every collector has a few items in their collection they love more than others. These valued pieces might be the ones of the highest worth or simply art you enjoy owning. If you and your spouse acquired lots of art while married, it could be impossible to walk away from a divorce with an entire art collection. However, you might be able to keep the art you love most by working with your estranged spouse, ensure they have their fair share of artwork.

Get your collection appraised

Sometimes, the perceived and actual values of items differ. You can help ensure you’re not leaving money on the table by having a professional appraise the more valuable pieces in your art collection. This appraisal process may also uncover pieces worth more than you thought.

The divorce process is rarely easy, and achieving a favorable outcome with your former spouse may prove challenging. But this challenging situation is worthwhile when you come away from it with your favorite art.