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Property division and artwork during a divorce

Every divorce and property division matter is dependent upon the circumstances of the case. The sorts of assets divided take on a different significance in one marriage as opposed to another.

Marital property acquired during the course of a marriage requires division in the event of a divorce. This means more than just the house or retirement and bank accounts. It includes cars, furniture and even artwork - including artwork created by a spouse who also happens to be an artist. Also, both current and future revenues from the artwork require consideration during the property division process. This includes revenues from licensing of the artwork as well as through copyright ownership.

Not every artist understands their artwork may be at stake during a divorce. They may believe the artwork is not marital property subject to property division processes. Courts, on the other hand, generally view any artwork created during the marriage as marital property. However, this does not include artwork created prior to the marriage. Depending upon the jurisdiction, this usually does not include property created after separation or filing for a divorce.

In any event, it's essential for artists to create an inventory regarding artwork created - noting whether creation was before or after the marriage, etc. Disclosure of the artwork is absolutely essential. Courts often award the other spouse undisclosed work when the failure is determined to result from some sort of fraud.

It's important to address any questions regarding these works to an experienced family law attorney who understands the property division laws for the state in which you are located. Otherwise unpleasant surprises could occur.

Source: Huffington Post, "For Artists, Divorce Means Splitting Up the (Art) Assets," Daniel Grant, March 3, 2015

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