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How To Divide Art In A Divorce


Whether you are anticipating a high asset divorce or you simply have a small art collection that will likely be classified as marital property in your divorce, it is important to understand how art gets divided in Georgia divorces and what steps you may need to take to ensure your collection is valued properly. How is art divided in a Georgia divorce? Like other assets, it will be divided according to equitable distribution, but in order to be certain that the division of paintings, sculptures, or other similar assets are in fact divided equitably, it will be critical to consider some issues that are specific to artistic property. The following steps explain how art should be divided in a divorce.

  1. Art Must Be Classified as Separate or Marital Property 

First, art must be classified as separate or marital property. If it is classified as separate property, it will not be divided in your divorce, but if it is classified as marital property, then it will be divided. To determine whether art is separate or marital property, it will be important to determine when it was purchased and how it was acquired. If art was purchased prior to the marriage, or acquired during the marriage through an inheritance, for example, it will likely be separate property. Otherwise, if the art was purchased during the marriage, it will usually be marital property.

  1. Art Must Be Properly Valued, Which Should Involve a Specialized Appraiser 

Appraising or valuing the art is often one of the most complicated aspects of dividing the property. Given that the value of art can fluctuate significantly over time, you should ensure that you work with an experienced appraiser who has knowledge of the art field or genre, and can provide you with an accurate market value. According to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, “it is hard to establish fixed values for antiques, artworks, and other collectible items,” and the “amount asked or offered is determined by many factors, including the condition of the object, personal interests of both the seller and the purchaser, and trends in the market.”

  1. Art Classified as Marital Property Must Be Divided Equitably 

Once the art has been properly valued or appraised, then the court will need to divide it according to the terms of equitable distribution. As you may know, the court will consider a variety of factors when deciding what an equitable distribution of marital assets and debts looks like, such as the ages and health of the spouses, contributions to the marriage, and the standard of living established during the marriage. To be clear, in order for art to be divided fairly, it must be appraised at its current value.

Contact a Divorce Attorney in Atlanta 

If you have any questions about dividing complex property in a divorce, and specifically about the valuation and distribution of art, one of our Atlanta divorce attorneys can speak with you today. Do not hesitate to get in touch with us about your case. Contact Kaye, Lembeck, Hitt & French for more information about how we can assist you.

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