When divorcing couples in Nevada and around the country negotiate the division of marital property, the discussions often become heated and contentious. This is especially true when the assets being divided include artwork collections that were amassed slowly and carefully. Spouses who collect art often become emotionally attached to pieces that they spent years searching for, which is something that their soon-to-be ex-husbands or wives may use to obtain a negotiating advantage. This is why it is wise to go into these talks with a firm objective in mind and a clear understanding of how much an art collection is worth.
Knowing what art is worth is especially important in states like Nevada that have community property laws as these laws require judges to divide marital estates equally even if this results in an unfair outcome. Most states have equitable distribution laws that allow judges to divide marital assets in a way they consider fair. Art appraisals are subjective, so it may be necessary to call on two or even three experts to arrive at figures that both spouses can agree on. Spouses with art collections should keep detailed records of the sums they spent to acquire, restore and insure their pieces, and they should make sure that these records are kept in a safe place. They should also be aware that only art that was acquired while they were married is subject to division.
Couples draft prenuptial or postnuptial agreements to avoid bitter divorce disputes, but these documents may not be enforceable if they are entered into under duress or have terms that are far more advantageous to one spouse than the other. Art can appreciate significantly in a short period of time, so it is wise to revisit prenuptial or postnuptial agreements on a regular basis to ensure that they remain basically fair.
Any assets acquired during a marriage are considered community property in Nevada, which means they will be divided equally in a divorce if a judge is called upon to settle matters. When divorcing couples own art collections, they should agree on the value of each piece before property division negotiations begin. Couples can also take a proactive approach and draft postnuptial agreements, but they should make sure that they negotiate in good faith and arrive at terms that are essentially fair.