How art is divided in a divorce

When artists go through a divorce in Texas, they might be surprised to learn that they will have to divide their creations. Under state law, paintings, sculptures or other art pieces that were created by one spouse during the marriage are the community property of both spouses. During the property division stage, both parties will have equal rights to these assets.

Determining the value of unsold artwork will be an important step during the divorce of a couple in which one or both parties are artists. All of the artwork that exists in a studio, a storage unit or various galleries must be inventoried and valued for property division purposes. Generally, a professional appraiser, art dealer or gallery owner is hired to assign a monetary value to the art pieces.

An artist may retain full ownership of any of their unsold work that was created before their marriage began or after the date that they separated from their spouse. Similarly, any commissions or licensing agreements that were arranged prior to the date of marriage are not considered marital assets even if the artist spouse received payments for them during the marriage.

It is possible that a property division agreement could be made in which an artist is allowed to keep all of his or her work while giving property of comparable value to the other spouse. Couples could also negotiate an agreement, subject to court approval, pursuant to which they agree to share future revenues from the sale of artwork that was created by one of the parties during the marriage. A family law attorney can be of assistance to a client who is faced with these types of complex issues.

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

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