Whether you're a collector or an artist, works of art likely hold quite a bit of value you in your life. That's why it can be so difficult for divorcing couples to decide who gets what when the marriage ends. While the property division rules in your state will apply, Art Law Journal offers the following advice if you're concerned about valuable pieces falling into the wrong hands.
First and foremost, you'll need to recognize which items are actually in play. Pieces collected or created before or after your marriage will not be included during the asset division process. Anything that you bought or created during the course of your marriage will be up for grabs, however. This includes pieces in your possession and pieces currently being displayed in galleries or elsewhere. Also, any pieces you've sold might also be considered, especially if they garnered quite a bit of money.
The next step is to properly value these pieces so you know where you stand financially. Keep in mind each spouse can hire his or her own appraiser, who will be responsible for determining the monetary value of each piece. This can be a laborious process, especially if you are the artist. For instance, you may find fault with the way items are appraised. Your appraiser might also have a difference of opinion, which can lead to quite a bit of back and forth. For this reason, many attorneys recommend working with a single appraiser to make the process less complex.
If you're an artist, you'll also need to keep copyright issues in mind. In this case, you may need to work out an arrangement where partial rights are distributed to your ex so that he or she can recoup some of the value for the piece. A person can't sell or distribute a work of art without the artist's express position. Fortunately, you can transfer portions of the copyright so you remain the rightful owner while also honoring the court order.