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How do Michigan courts divide art collections in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Apr 17, 2024 | High-Asset Divorce

Going through a divorce means dividing some of your assets with your spouse. In Michigan, the courts typically divide marital property—anything you acquired during marriage—through the principle of equitable distribution. This method means that the court divides marital property as it deems fair.

Courts apply it to everything from cars to houses, including art collections. But that doesn’t mean the entire collection will be halved; certain factors can affect the outcome.

If purchased before the marriage

Did you start your art collection before tying the knot? If the answer is yes, these items are usually considered separate property. Your art pieces won’t be part of the division process during the divorce. However, there’s an exception. If your spouse restored or enhanced the pieces in any way, the court could take this into account. They might award your spouse a part of the increased value.

This is because of any contributions your spouse made that added value to these items during the marriage, even if you acquired the items before the marriage. The court might consider this a joint effort and factor it into the property division decision.

Acquired during the marriage

If you purchased the art during your marriage, the situation changes. The art pieces are usually now marital property. Under equitable distribution, the court examines various factors to decide what’s fair regarding who gets what of the marital property. These factors include anything relating to your marriage’s duration and what you and your spouse contributed, both financially and non-financially.

In some situations, the court might consider non-monetary contributions like house chores or childcare. If one spouse supported the other in acquiring education or training that increased their earning potential, the court can consider this when deciding where your art collection will go.

Having a prenuptial agreement

One more thing to consider is a prenuptial agreement or prenup. If you signed a prenup, it can dictate how to divide your property, including your art collection. This contract can define what you and your spouse consider separate versus marital property. As a result, the court won’t dictate the division of all assets. Instead, the division, even of your art collection, will follow the terms both spouses agreed to before the marriage.

Dividing an art collection in a divorce can be complex. For guidance, consider consulting an attorney. They can help you find answers about your specific situation.