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Who gets the art in divorce?

When it comes to dividing art in a divorce, deciding who gets what can feel like an uphill battle. Not only is there the financial aspect involved with having to split up the art, but many people also have emotional attachments to collections and/or individual pieces. However, just as other property acquired in a marriage -- such as the house or the car -- many divorcing couples find themselves in the situation of having to address how to divide art.

Recently, a Wall Street Journal article titled "Tips for Dividing Art in a Divorce or Death," discussed this very topic. For the purposes of our post, we will focus solely on property division of art as it relates to divorce. 

 

The first thing is to take inventory. This includes information on what art was purchased before the marriage, during the marriage, what art has been sold, how much it was sold for and what pieces are yet to be sold. 

In looking at this inventory, keep in mind that Washington is a community property state. This typically means that all property -- in this case art -- that is purchased by a married couple belongs to each spouse. This being said though, typically, property purchased prior to the marriage is considered separate property.

After getting a full inventory together, with nothing hidden, a couple may decide to hire an appraiser or each get their own. The potential differences between the appraisers should be taken into account though when attempting to come to a decision.

Of course, though, this may all be a lot easier said than done, as many couples are simply unable to work out a fair agreement. In these cases, the suggestion is to reach out to a divorce attorney. This attorney can advise couples on how the court may end up viewing the art and what options for division could be available.

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