In most property division cases in California, divorcing couples fight over bank accounts, real properties, vehicles, houses and even the furniture. But what if one spouse is an artist who creates extraordinary pieces of art? Will the artwork created by the spouse during marriage be considered marital property?
Artists have extraordinary minds, which makes their divorce and property division battles a little different than others. According to a recent report, an artist-spouse has a tendency to think that the artwork the person created is the person's sole property. Many of these creations may be stored somewhere in their studio, on display as a decoration in the home or on a consignment to a gallery. While many Californians may think that these creations are separate property, this may not be the case. Usually, family law courts in California view any kind of artwork as a community or marital property, provided that the artwork was created during the marriage. This means that even though the other spouse did not contribute to the creation of that artwork, the person has the right to claim a share over that asset.
With that in mind, any artwork created before the marriage or produced after the couple has filed for divorce is considered non-marital property. This extends to any payment made for the artwork prior to the marriage, such as a licensing agreement, or art commission. And even though the payment arrived after the marriage, it is still treated as a separate property.
When facing property division, an artist spouse should list and categorize artworks from those made before the marriage, and creations made after the couple said "I do." A full disclosure of assets and properties also applies to artworks.
Distributing the art assets upon a divorce can make the process more complicated than it already is, given that each artwork can have a different value. With that, people may need to take extra steps to protect these assets.
Source: The Huffington Post, "For Artists, Divorce Means Splitting Up the Art Assets," Daniel Grant, Mar. 6, 2015