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Splitting artwork in a divorce

When an artist creates a painting or any other work of art, he or she may believe that the art belongs to them alone. However, the courts see things differently. According to the law, that artwork must generally be considered as marital property. Therefore, it must be split in an equitable manner when an artist gets divorced.

In addition, the artist may need to split the copyright as well as any future revenues derived from that copyright. To determine how much a piece of art may be worth, it must be appraised by a gallery or some other expert who would be able to put a fair market value on it. In some cases, both spouses may pick an expert to place a value on the work with the final value to be determined by a judge. Until the value has been established on a piece, it may not be possible for the artist to loan or destroy his or her work.

While a spouse may be entitled to any revenues derived from artwork, the other spouse may also be liable for some of the debt related to creating that artwork. Therefore, it is common for a spouse to agree to drop a claim for future earnings in exchange for also being freed from any debt related to such artistic creations.

During a divorce, the issue of property division may be a contentious one. However, it may be possible to come to an agreement regarding the value of property or how to split with the help of a family law attorney. An attorney may be able to help a couple come to an agreement either through mediation or settlement talks outside of court or through a formal divorce trial.

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