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How Will Art Get Divided in My Florida Divorce?


One of the most contentious issues in any divorce is property division, and spouses can become especially frustrated or angry when there is an issue of complex property division. For couples planning on a high net worth divorce, there are often high-value assets from the marriage that will need to be valued and divided. Numerous Orlando couples, for example, have extensive art collections that they acquired together during their marriage. In addition to having market value, many pieces of art—from paintings to sculptures to other objects—also have personal value for the collectors. Accordingly, art collections can be extremely difficult to divide.

If you share an art collection with your spouse and are planning to file for divorce, you are probably wondering: how will art get divided in my Florida divorce? A Wall Street Journal article (why are we referencing a Wall Street Journal article and not quoting it. It is confusing that we would refer them to the article for information. We should be providing the information and having them look at our site not the wall street journal) discusses this complicated question and provides information to individuals considering divorce. We want to provide you with more information when it comes to dividing art and other high-end collections in a Florida divorce.

Is the Art Classified as Marital or Separate Property? 

The first step in dividing any art collection is determining whether it should be classified as marital or separate property. Under Florida law, only marital property is divided while spouses get to retain separate property. In general, marital property includes any assets purchased after the date of marriage unless they clearly are separate assets or were purchased with separate property, including for example:

  • Income earned prior to the marriage;
  • Inheritance acquired during the marriage;
  • Gift of art work specifically to only one of the spouses during the marriage; and/or
  • Art designated as separate property in a prenuptial agreement.

Providing All Available Documentation for the Art Collection

How will you be able to show that certain art should be classified as separate property or marital property? You should gather all available documentation for each piece now, including the following:

  • Date of purchase;
  • Original cost of purchase;
  • Location of purchase; and
  • Any previous appraisals.

Valuing Art Work Classified as Marital Property and Subject to Division 

Valuation is the next step in a divorce where the couple shares an art collection. In terms of valuation, the most important figures are market values. These are the values that the court will use in determining what an “equitable distribution” looks like under Florida law. At the same time, however, you should keep in mind that you may be able to negotiate a property settlement with your spouse that involves you retaining particular pieces that have particular personal value to you. For example, you may own a painting that you purchased directly from the artist, and that personal value might add to your own sense of value that the painting holds beyond its sheer market value.

In obtaining the market value of the collection, it is important for each spouse to hire an expert to appraise the collection. Even if you have had the collection appraised in the past, the art market can fluctuate greatly. As such, you should obtain current appraisals of each piece. The documentation you gather can help with a present appraisal, and your lawyer can help to ensure that each piece is appropriately valued.

Contact a Complex Property Division in Orlando 

If you are getting divorced and share an art collection or other tangible marital assets of high value, you should work with an Orlando complex property division attorney on your case. Contact Anderson & Ferrin today.



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