There are some California couples who have spent years appreciating art and amassing a collection. If a couple is heading for a divorce their art collection may be one of the largest points of contention. A couple’s art collection could exceed several thousands, if not millions, of dollars and it is an important area of property division.

In California, art that was collected during a couple’s marriage is considered to be marital property. The property that is obtained during a marriage is usually divided equally among the two parties. Any art that was acquired before the marriage is usually considered non-marital property. Also, art that was a gift to just one spouse by a third party is also generally considered non-marital property. Often this can include an inheritance of art. If one spouse gives the other spouse a gift of art during the marriage that art would be considered community property.

When a couple with a highly valued art collection decides to get a divorce it is important that a person hires an attorney who is skilled at property division. An attorney understands what is necessary in order to fairly dividing the property, including art. Many times art has increased in value from when it was first purchased, so obtaining expert valuations can be critical. Each party may hire their own appraiser and the court may split up based on fair market value. Many times if a couple cannot agree on the value of an art work that court will order the art be sold and the proceeds are split between the two parties.

Dividing art in a divorce can be very complicated. It is important for those who have a valuable collection to consult with an attorney who can make sure their best interests are protected.