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Dividing valuable artwork in a divorce

When couples get divorced in Missouri, part of the separation process involves dividing up any property has been acquired during the marriage. In cases where spouses cannot reach an agreement, a judge may be asked to decide how marital property should be split. When the marital assets include valuable works of art, property division can be quite tricky.

Division of valuable artwork has become a major issue in many high-property divorces, especially when the artwork has substantially increased in value. Artwork acquired during a marriage is treated just like any other marital property. Many divorce litigants choose to hire appraisers to determine the value of art collections so that the artwork can be equally divided in a divorce settlement agreement. Another option is to sell the property and divide the proceeds.

Many art collectors are using prenuptial agreements to protect their collections in the event of divorce. These agreements have traditionally been used to protect property owned prior to the marriage or property that is expected to be inherited during the marriage. However, prenups may also be used to determine how valuable assets will be split in the event of divorce.

The situation can be especially complex when it is not clear whether the art is marital property or not. If one of the spouses is an artist or art dealer, there may be a legal question about whether the property is jointly owned by the spouses or a business.

An attorney could help a client who is facing complex asset division in a divorce case. If it is unclear whether property is marital property or not, an attorney may be able to use records to argue in a client's favor.

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