Divorce is often a messy business, and when it involves precious assets, it can get even messier. If you are in Massachusetts, and you and your husband or wife are art collectors, you may be wondering what will happen to your collection in the event of a divorce.
Marital vs. separate property
Marital property is any asset that was acquired during the marriage while separate property is anything that was owned before the marriage or gifted to one spouse during the marriage. Art collections can be either marital or separate property depending on when and how the collection was acquired.
If you and your spouse purchased artwork together during your marriage, then those works are likely considered marital property and will be subject to division in a divorce.
How is art divided in a divorce?
If you and your soon-to-be-ex cannot agree about who will get which pieces of art, the court will likely step in and make a decision for you. The court may consider several factors when making its decision, including the value of the art, the length of the marriage and each spouse’s financial needs. One method of dividing art in a divorce is to have each spouse select a certain number of pieces from the collection. Another method is to sell the entire collection and split the proceeds evenly between the spouses.
How can you avoid going to court?
If you and your spouse can reach an agreement about who will get which pieces of art, you may avoid going to court altogether. You may want to consider hiring a mediator to assist you and your spouse in coming to an agreement. A mediator is a neutral third party whose job is to help you and your spouse communicate effectively and reach a compromise that is fair to both of you.
If you are currently going through a divorce and have an art collection, it is crucial that you understand your legal rights and options. It’s always best, however, to try to come to an agreement with your ex about who will get which pieces of art as this can avoid a lengthy and costly court battle.