Know how to handle antiques and artwork in your divorce

As you move through life and acquire assets, you might lose focus on just how valuable they are, especially as you replace your focus on financial value with sentimental value and emotional attachment. There’s nothing wrong with this, per se, but it can leave you in a difficult position in the event that you find yourself headed toward divorce and the property division process that accompanies it. This is because, absent a prenuptial agreement, assets acquired during your marriage will be divided equitably. Also, any appreciation value acquired during the course of the marriage may also be subject to division, even if the asset was acquired prior to your marriage.

What does this mean for you? This means that you need to know the true value of your assets, which can be challenging when they include things like artwork and antiques. Therefore, before you engage in property division negotiations or prepare for litigation, you need to make sure that you’ve conducted appraisals to know exactly where your assets stand.

Of course, there are many ways that artwork and antiques are appraised, and many factors may be taken into consideration in calculating an estimated value. For example, when considering artwork, an appraiser might analyze any or all of the following:

  • The condition of the piece
  • The artistic value
  • The cultural value
  • The social value
  • It’s fashion appeal
  • The value of the creator’s brand
  • The commercial value of the piece in question
  • The state of the market for that particular type of work

All of these factors may be utilized to calculate a fair market value. Of course, many of the factors utilized to reach this figure are relatively subjective, and the market can fluctuate from day-to-day. Therefore, if you and your spouse both have a piece appraised by an expert, you could wind up with widely different estimated values.

This, of course, can be problematic. Such discrepancies can make it nearly impossible to negotiate resolution, and it might require presenting expert testimony in court so that a judge can determine how best to divide that particular asset, as well as other assets that are in play. Taking these matters to court can be risky, though, as a judge could simply order an asset to be sold and force the parties to divide the proceeds. While this certainly gives the parties a concrete figure to work with, it might not be the true value of the piece, and it can be an emotional blow to lose an asset to which you have a strong attachment.

So, if you’re facing a high-asset divorce and are concerned about the property division process, then you need to be thoroughly prepared. Not only do you need to know the value of your assets, but you also need to know how to effectively negotiate with your spouse. When it comes to the latter, you might be able to effectively do so by identifying what is most important to him or her and using that as leverage, especially if you’re willing to give in that area. It also means knowing how to draft compelling legal arguments that can protect your interests in the event that your divorce winds up being litigated.

You are certainly free to represent yourself in these matters, but most people are intimidated by the prospect, and, truth be told, most people are put at a disadvantage when they decide to do so. For those reasons, most people choose to seek assistance from a divorce attorney who knows how to competently navigate the process, think creatively, and assess a case with a critical eye. Such a results-oriented attorney can work with you to develop the strategy you need to succeed. While no outcome can be guaranteed, there’s no doubt that having a skilled legal ally by your side gives you the potential to maximize your chances of success.

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