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Art collections in divorce

It isn't unusual for couples in California to have some conflict over asset division during a divorce. In some cases, dividing personal property can be an area of significant strife, sometimes even more so than splitting up financial accounts. This may be due to one or both spouses having an emotional attachment to a particular item.

One example of this kind of difficulty is when a couple owns valuable artwork. If the couple cannot quickly come to an agreement about what will be done with a piece, or a collection, tensions can quickly escalate. It can be difficult to determine whether a piece is marital property or belongs to one of the spouses. Making matters worse, determining the value of a piece is often a complicated process that can complicate a high-asset divorce.

To prevent a drawn-out conflict, lawyers may attempt to determine if the artwork was a gift to one or both spouses, one spouse purchased the piece with his or her own funds or the couple has joint ownership of the piece. It may also be possible to determine the value of the piece through appraisals; although, some attorneys insist that the only correct way to determine the value of artwork is to sell it.

Individuals who are considering divorce and concerned about what will happen to an art collection may benefit from speaking with an attorney. The lawyer could review the client's case and make recommendations regarding valuation and a equitable division of either the collection or the proceeds after selling it.

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