Cutting Edge Solutions...

Old Style Service And Values

Attorneys Vic Hill and Brad MacDonald

Why art collections can be problematic during divorce

One of the most complicated parts of a divorce case involves dividing the assets that the couple owns. The things that they have accumulated during their marriage are generally going to count as marital assets, while items from before the marriage began will generally count as separate assets. As a result, the first part of the complicated process is simply determining which assets qualify as items that are jointly owned.

Some of these assets can ultimately create more complications than others. For example, a couple may not find it difficult to divide financial accounts, at least once they determine how their assets should be split up. If each person gets half of a bank account’s value, for example, this part of the property division process may be relatively straightforward. But something like an art collection can get very “sticky” and could become the most difficult part of the process.

Disagreeing on about valuation

One of the issues is simply that the couple has to have the artwork appraised. They may have already done so or they may do so as their divorce case unfolds. They can then use this appraisal to determine the value of each piece and the value of the collection as a whole.

Unfortunately, there are many cases in which two people will disagree about the value of the art that they’re splitting up. After all, they may not actually be selling that artwork and dividing the money that they earn. They may just be exchanging it, splitting up the collection while keeping other assets. There is no buyer to “prove” how much a piece is worth.

For example, maybe one person wants to keep a painting, which they claim is worth $10,000. But the other person may claim that the painting is actually worth $1 million, and they would like to keep the family home– which also appraised at $1 million – in exchange. Settling on the true value of the art collection is clearly the next step in determining how the marital estate should be distributed.

Asset division can get quite complex, and valuation is just the very beginning of the process. All involved need to make sure they are well aware of the legal options at their disposal by seeking legal guidance proactively. Making this effort can help to ensure that everyone’s interests are safeguarded as well.