Greg R. Lewis, Esq. - Harry Lewis Co., LPA

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Is your art really yours?

You've been an artist for 10 years, during which you were married. You've created hundreds of pieces. Many of them were sold, but you still have a studio full of pieces you haven't been able to sell just yet.

Are they yours? You probably think so, but, if your marriage is ending in divorce, the court likely looks at it a bit differently. They'll say that your spouse also has a claim to the value of that art, as it's a marital asset.

This can be huge, financially speaking. Perhaps you typically sell your pieces for $10,000 to $25,000, and you have two dozen of them in your studio. That's potentially $240,000 to $600,000. Are you working on anything right now? That probably counts as well. Your spouse may want to take those pieces or other assets that are worth half of the value to compensate.

Granted, not everything counts. If you created a piece before you tied the knot, your spouse likely does not have a claim. If you legally separated and you create another piece during the months before your divorce gets finalized, that's also likely yours alone.

But don't assume you own everything, 100 percent, just because you created it. Your spouse may have a valid claim, and you may need to divide those assets just like you would divide anything else you acquired as a couple.

As you can see, property division often gets rather complex, and it may catch you by surprise. Make sure you really know how the law applies and what rights you have as you split up what you own.

Source: Huffington Post, "For Artists, Divorce Means Splitting Up the (Art) Assets," Daniel Grant, accessed Jan. 04, 2018

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