When you and your spouse divorce, you may have prepared yourself to relinquish assets held in bank accounts or properties you own. However, when your artwork and collectibles are at risk, you may not know how to proceed or if your spouse has a claim to them. The following blog explores what you must know if you plan on divorcing and how New Jersey equitable distribution attorneys can guide you through this contentious and complex legal matter to ensure your best interests are represented.
How Are These Assets Divided During a Divorce?
Generally, when the courts divide assets, they will first determine what is marital and separate property. Marital property is any asset acquired throughout the course of the marriage or comingled with other assets. Separate property is anything a party owned before they were married or inherited during the marriage.
Once separate and martial property has been determined, the courts will distribute assets based on the equitable distribution laws that New Jersey follows. Essentially, this means the courts do not have to divide assets equally to both parties, but they will consider how much each spouse contributed to the marriage. They will take financial and domestic contributions into consideration as a means of protecting stay-at-home parents.
How Are Artwork and Collectibles Valued?
If the artwork and collectibles you own are deemed marital property, they will be subject to division and distribution if you proceed with a court divorce.
If you and your spouse are able to, you may be able to work out a compromise in which you can keep the piece or collection in exchange for other assets.
However, if you proceed with a court divorce, the judge will value the artwork before distributing it accordingly. Generally, they will order an appraisal, in which an industry expert will analyze the condition of the piece and collection, examine other similar sales, and provide their professional opinion regarding what the items are worth.
In some instances, both parties may agree to hire their own appraisers to value the items. If the values come back drastically different, this can be settled in one of two ways. Parties can agree to average the value of the two opinions or allow the other two appraisers to select a third appraiser.
It’s also important to note that if your artwork is deemed separate property, your spouse will not be entitled to the value by which the art increased over the course of the marriage. For example, if you have a painting worth $7,000 and it increases in value by $3,000 when you and your spouse divorce, your spouse is not entitled to the appreciation value. This is because it is passively appreciated, as opposed to you putting in effort to increase its value.
If you’re going through a divorce and are worried about property distribution, it’s in your best interest to contact Haber Silver Russoniello & Dunn. Our dedicated team can fight for the assets you deserve during your divorce.