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Tips for dividing an art collection

On Behalf of | Jan 4, 2023 | Family Law

In South Carolina, equitable distribution laws apply when putting together a property division settlement. This means that you might lose control of any assets that are considered part of the marital estate. If you amassed an art collection during your marriage, there is a chance that it will be subject to equitable distribution rules in your divorce case.

Determining if a collection is a marital asset

Generally speaking, an item is only a marital asset if you obtained it after the union became official. An exception may apply to any appreciation in a painting or sculpture that occurred while still married. Another exception may apply if marital funds were used to maintain a work of art even if was acquired prior to entering into matrimony. An item may also be outside of the marital estate if it is placed in a trust or is declared to be your sole property as part of a prenuptial agreement.

How to determine a collection’s value

Ideally, you will have your collection appraised prior to starting divorce proceedings. It’s also possible that a judge will order you to do so at some point after proceedings begin or that your spouse will retain the services of someone who knows how much a given piece might be worth.

How to split the value of an art collection

There are three possible ways to equitably divide works of art that are considered joint property. First, you may be able to sell the collection and split the proceeds of the sale. Alternatively, you can transfer ownership of select pieces to your spouse in lieu of a cash payment. Finally, you may be able to pay to retain ownership of pieces that you are particularly fond of.

In addition to a share of marital property, you may also be entitled to spousal support or child support payments. The final structure of a divorce settlement will likely depend on a number of factors including the existence of a prenuptial agreement, your ability to work and how long the marriage lasted.