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Equitable Distribution of Artwork and Other Valuable Items During a Divorce?

May 28, 2020

The higher the value of the property you and your spouse own jointly or separately, the harder it is to divide it in a divorce. Some couples end up in protracted battles over the marital home or alimony. An estate planning lawyer might tell you that your furniture, jewelry, and other personal items are just clutter that your relatives probably don’t care about inheriting, but in divorce cases, the parties sometimes fight bitterly over valuable items of personal property. Artwork can especially be a sticking point for equitable division in a divorce. Contact the Pittsburgh family law attorneys if the marital property you and your spouse need to divide in your divorce includes artwork or other valuable items.

Appraising the Value of Artwork

After you file your divorce complaint but before the judge can make any decisions, you and your spouse must submit financial disclosures about the value of every marital and separate asset you own, including each piece of artwork. If you and your spouse disagree about the resale value of a painting or sculpture, or if it has been more than a few years since you bought it, you should have it professionally appraised.

The Value of Art Is Not Just Monetary

If you and your spouse own many pieces of artwork, the court will probably award parts of the collection to you and parts of it to your spouse. If you are especially emotionally attached to a certain piece of artwork, you can request in the divorce complaint that the court award that piece to you. If that work of art is very valuable and honoring that request would mean that you get an unfairly large share of the marital wealth, the court might require you to pay your spouse for his or her share of the piece or forfeit some of your alimony.

When You Bought the Artwork Is More Important Than Who It Belongs to on Paper

Sometimes couples disagree about whether an asset is marital or non-marital. The courts classify most assets as marital if they were purchased during the marriage. Therefore, a painting that your husband purchased in his name only could actually be marital property, and you could be entitled to some of its value. Meanwhile, inherited wealth is almost always separate property. Therefore, if you inherited artwork from your parents while you were married to your spouse, the court will not require you to divide the collection with your spouse or compensate her for part of its value.

Iwanyshyn & Associates Helps Couples Divide Valuable Marital Assets

High net worth divorce can be very stressful and time-consuming. Your spouse can threaten to destroy your financial good fortune, but they do not have the right to deprive you of your fair share of the assets you have accumulated during the marriage or the personal property that has the greatest sentimental value to you. Contact Iwanyshyn & Associates in Pittsburgh about divorce cases.