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When An Artist Divorces Their Art May Be Marital Property

Artists have a tendency to think of their art as intrinsically theirs because they created it. However, New Jersey couples may be interested to learn that when an artist gets divorced, the art objects, copyrights and licensing revenues have to be divided like any other marital asset. In an equitable distribution state, the division is expected to be fair, but not necessarily equal.

Artworks created before the couple wed or after either the divorce or separation may be viewed as belonging solely to the artist and not subject to the division of property. However, works that are created during the marriage are typically subject to division. During this process, as with other marital assets, creating a detailed inventory is the first step. Then, the next step is to get it properly appraised. Ideally, the two people should agree on a single appraiser. However, they do have the right to bring in their own individual appraisers.

As with other marital assets, the artist and their spouse may value the works differently. The artist may have reasons other than money for wanting to keep certain pieces whereas the divorcing spouse may primarily view the work in terms of its potential monetary value. As with all negotiations, value may be found in the differences. It may be possible for each to make concessions on that do not matter to them in order to get things they value more.

Making art tends to be a more personal process than many careers, and valuing the pieces can be tricky. An artist who might be going through a divorce may need to discuss this process with a lawyer. That lawyer may be able to help a client evaluate the price of works of art and other properties. In addition, that lawyer could help create a settlement that might keep the client’s interests in mind while offering an equitable division to the other party.

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