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Artists, their artwork and property division in divorce

Artists in California who are divorcing might be aware that since it is a community property state, all assets are considered to be owned by both spouses. However, they may not realize that their artwork is also a marital asset. This applies whether the art in question is visual art or some other type of art, such as a film.

Valuing artwork can be complex. It might be based on a combination of actual value, as demonstrated by what the art has sold for, along with how much each spouse thinks it is worth. For an established artist, negotiations regarding the division will generally differ from an artist who has made little money from the work so far. The beginning artist may see the work as having a higher value than the spouse does.

One example of a property division negotiation is the artist spouse giving the other spouse a certain percentage of revenue, but over ten years, the percentage could decrease. Another example is the artist spouse keeping ownership of their work but giving their spouse some interest in the royalties.

One of the first steps an artist should take if divorce looks likely is making an inventory. It is important to avoid concealing assets, as this could result in future lawsuits.

Artists and their spouses might find it beneficial to work with an attorney. If the divorce is amicable, they may want to try a collaborative divorce or mediation in order to reach a creative solution that suits both parties. If the split is more contentious, each party may want an attorney who can protect their interests. This might be appropriate since estimating the value of art may be less straightforward than that of other assets.

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

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