As an artist, your art is your life, your work and potentially your income. While each piece you create is special to you and you may believe that it only belongs to you, that’s not really true when it comes to divorce. The reality is that anything you do, make, create or otherwise collect during your marriage is something that could potentially be divided in your divorce.
For people who rely on their art for an income, this is particularly damaging. Why? It has the potential to result in the other spouse obtaining artwork or a portion of income from the sales of art. Depending on the settlement you come up with, this could result in significant impacts on your business and finances.
What can you do to protect your art during divorce?
1. Take photos and identify your work
You don’t want to find that your art suddenly goes missing and pops up at an auction long after your divorce is over. Make sure you know what you have in your collection. Take photos or scans, identify the dates and identify where each piece is located.
2. Get your art appraised
The next thing to do is to get your art appraised. When you get your art appraised, you can do it as a collection or individually. It’s usually better to do it individually and to find out the value of each piece rather than to get a value for the collection if it were to sell as a whole. However, choose the value that’s higher, since that’s in your best interests as the artist.
3. Negotiate for your rights
Once you have the value of your pieces, you can begin to negotiate for them. If you feel it’s better to trade a few pieces in exchange for your vehicle or wish to sell the art and settle that way, both might be an option.
During a high-asset divorce, your art pieces could be good leverage. Protecting your art during divorce is important, though. Since it’s your work and how you bring in an income, you want to keep as many pieces as you can to allow for a continuous stream of income. If you have the option to sell the pieces and pay your ex-spouse a portion, that may also be a good idea depending on the situation. It’s only after a full appraisal that you’ll know where you stand.