Complications for Dividing Art and Collectibles in a Divorce

Getting divorced in Charleston means that all of your property will need to be properly classified into categories of separate (or nonmarital) property and marital property. South Carolina law requires that all marital property, including assets and debts, be divided equitably between the spouses. In general, marital property includes assets and debts acquired or accrued by either spouse after the date of the marriage, while nonmarital property includes assets and debts acquired or accrued by either spouse prior to the date of the marriage. There are some exceptions, but that is the general rule. Where does an art collection or other collectibles get classified? Often, art collections are either entirely marital property, or they include pieces of separate and marital property.

Dividing art collections can be extremely complicated for a number of reasons. Consider the following information from our Charleston divorce attorneys.

Values of Art Tend to Fluctuate Significantly

Art and other related collectibles are notoriously difficult to value since their market values fluctuate significantly. As an article in Forbes explains, “even the work of very established artists can see pretty wild fluctuations over the course of their careers because of the artist’s circumstances, market fads, economic realities, and a whole host of other issues.” Works by lesser known artists can certainly fluctuate in value, too.

Appraisals Require Expertise

Since art values change so much over time, it will be necessary to have an expert appraiser determine values. You will usually need to ensure that an appraiser handles the assets who has experience not only appraising art, but appraising art by the particular artist or in the particular genre.

Spouses Often Do Not Want to Divide Up the Collection

Divorces among collectors can be difficult and contentious because spouses usually do not want to divide up the collection. If you want to keep the collection as a cohesive whole, you might be able to do so through a marital settlement agreement.

Commingled Property Issues

In many marriages where the couples share a collection, one of the spouses got started initially. In other words, it is common for one of the spouses to bring their burgeoning collection to the marriage. Then, the couple starts collecting together and adding to the collection. As such, the total collection becomes commingled. However, this type of commingling is often relatively easy to sort out as long as the pieces of the collection are being assessed individually. With receipts and purchase orders, it should be clear when certain paintings or sculptures (or other items) were initially purchased. If the parties paid for any restoration during the marriage of an asset that would otherwise be considered nonmarital property, the increase in value due to the restoration is likely to be considered marital property.

Contact a Charleston Divorce Attorney

Learning that your art collection or other valuable property will be divided in your divorce can be upsetting and confusing. It is important to learn more about how you might be able to protect these assets, and what you can do to ensure that they are appraised accurately and fairly. Our Charleston divorce lawyers are here to help you. Contact The Peck Law Firm online or call our firm at 843-631-7117 today for more details about the services we provide in divorce cases.

Recommendations For Additional Reading

What is Commingled Property in a Divorce?
Who Gets the Pet in a Divorce?
Can I Keep My House in the Divorce?