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Your priceless art collection needs a value in a divorce

Some people collect figurines, coins or a multitude of other items that have some significance to them. You collect works of art. Over the years, you put together a collection that speaks to you, and you consider it priceless.

However, now that your marriage has ended, you will need to put a price on that collection because any pieces purchased during the time you were married are part of the marital estate. In fact, the court will assume you and your spouse own everything jointly as a starting point since Arizona is a community property state. 

Putting a price tag on your art collection

Even though the court assumes your spouse owns half of your art collection, it does not necessarily mean you will have to give him or her half of it. You may be able to even things up by giving your spouse some other property of equivalent value. In order to stay within the state's property division rules, you will need to look at the following criteria in order to determine what your art collection is worth:

  • The law of supply and demand applies to artwork. The rarer a piece is, the greater its value.
  • If you feel you kept each of your pieces in good condition, it could increase the value. Someone will need to assess the condition of each piece in order to make this determination.
  • The acquisition and sales history, or provenance, of each piece also plays a role in its value. For instance, a piece of art once owned by someone famous could add to its value.
  • The subject matter of the artwork, along with the period in which it was created, could play a role in the value as well.

Obviously, the name of the artist could also significantly affect the value of a piece. If you own a Picasso or Monet, the name alone would make the art more valuable. If possible, you and your future former spouse may want to employ an art appraiser upon whom you can both agree. Otherwise, you could end up in court asking the court to believe your appraiser over his or hers.

Whether you need a judge to rule on the value of your art collection and the disposition of it, or you and your spouse can come to an amicable agreement and exchange of property, you still need to make sure that your rights are protected throughout the process. The resolution of this and other issues in your divorce will substantially affect your future financial security, and you will want to get it right the first time.

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