New Jersey couples may be interested in some information about what happens to artwork during a divorce. While a piece of artwork is generally seen as just another piece of property by the law, the specifics of how it will be divided can depend on a number of factors.

Property division is often a major part of divorce, leading to extended negotiations and potential fights. When one of the ex-spouses is an artist, their artwork that was created during the marriage is generally included in the pool of assets to be divided. This requires the artwork to be given a value, which can be difficult when it was never sold or displayed anywhere. Generally, the spouses will hire an appraiser to value the artwork. If the artist wishes to keep that artwork after the divorce, they may need to give up other assets to make up that value.

When artwork is the source of future earnings, such as in the case of a licensing agreement, this may bring additional complications into the divorce. One method for dividing the proceeds from this agreement is giving one spouse a percentage of licensing revenue that diminishes each year, but ownership of copyright stays with the artist spouse. Depending on the popularity of the artist or the intrinsic value of the agreement, there may be lengthy negotiations with the other side to finalize the property division.

Property distribution can be especially complex in a high-asset divorce. However, this is just one aspect of the divorce process. An attorney may be able to help their client with property division as well as child custody, alimony and child support issues. The attorney may be useful in representing one spouse in divorce negotiations or appearing on their behalf before a judge.

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