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In a divorce, artists are required to list artwork as assets

When couples in Illinois are getting divorced, the spouses are required to assemble a list of all assets. For artists, this includes works of art that have been created since the marriage was formed, and in some cases, since the separation. Placing value on artwork can be a difficult process, but there are multiple ways to figure its worth and determine how to best divide it between spouses.

Some artists do not consider their works of art to be property, but due to copyright laws, this is not the case. Whether an artist has an extensive, valuable portfolio or just a few creations that do not hold much value, courts consider this property to be community or marital property, and as a result, the non-artist spouse can place equal claim on it in the event of a divorce.

Artists and non-artist spouses can use variety of methods to value artwork. Both spouses can hire a professional appraiser to place monetary value on the work, but in most cases, it is simpler for the spouses to rely on the value decided upon by one appraiser. If both spouses hire their own appraiser, the final estimates will be determined by lawyers or a judge. If works of art have not been completed or exhibited, an agreement can be made to provide the non-artist spouse with future earnings.

Property division can be a complicated matter as the process involves factors such as sentimental value, equitable division and complex valuation. Due to these technicalities, many individuals opt to work with a lawyer to keep things as simple as possible and determine how to best go about splitting up their marital assets.

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