How Is Art Divided In A Divorce?
Divorce tends never to be a straight-forward process, especially when it comes to the division of assets. This is particularly true when you and your spouse own a significant amount of fine art and do not have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement dictating how it should be divided. If you are concerned about how a divorce could impact your ownership of a piece or collection of fine art, continue reading to find out. Of course, this information is meant to be general. If you have specific questions about your situation it is always advisable to consult with an attorney.
Equitable Division in Florida
Unlike states that divide marital assets down the middle, Florida takes a more nuanced approach by using the equitable distribution method. Instead of focusing on how to divide everything equally, this method requires judges to determine what division would be most fair. This decision is made by relying on a number of factors and rules intended to determine fairness, such as the contributions and sacrifices that each spouse made for the marriage. The most important consideration when it comes to equitable distribution is the classification of assets as separate or marital property. This is because only marital property is subject to equitable distribution. The court does not have the authority to divide separate property.
Is Fine Art Separate or Marital Property?
Fine art can be classified as either separate or marital property depending on the specific circumstances. For instance, if the art was acquired by one spouse before the marriage or via an inheritance at any point before or during the marriage, it will be treated as separate property. If the art was acquired during the marriage it will be considered marital property unless it was given as a gift to one of the spouses by a third party. If the gift was given from one spouse to another it will be considered marital property.
Valuing Artwork for Equitable Distribution
If spouses can determine between themselves how to divide their artwork, the court will honor and enforce their decision. The parties are also able to use attorneys to negotiate an agreement on the division of the artwork or to utilize the services of a neutral third-party mediator. If the parties are unable to come to an agreement, a judge will decide. This can present issues when it comes to fine art because the value of the art is not always clear or easily determined. The parties may present any evidence of valuation, including expert witnesses and comparable artwork, but if the judge is unable to come to a decision on the value of the art, the artwork may have to be sold and its proceeds divided between the couple in accordance with the court-determined equitable distribution ratio.
Contact Us to Schedule a Consultation Today
If you are going through a divorce, the experienced Tampa family law attorneys at Bubley & Bubley want to help ensure that your assets and interests are protected. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.