Art is a Martial Asset in Utah

Many Utah artists might be surprised to learn that their artwork is considered a part of the marital assets and is therefore included in consideration of any relevant divorce proceedings. Spouses may retain a half-interest in any artwork created during the marriage, including copyright, or may receive residual income for a specified period of time as part of a divorce settlement. Therefore, knowing the value of the art associated with a divorce may become a key factor in asset division.

Artists who fail to declare or properly allocate marital assets during a divorce leave themselves open to potential lawsuits from the spouse later. In addition, failure to accurately appraise artwork or sell the work at a reasonable market value for the artist’s reputation and previous record may be cause for litigation. No artwork may be transferred, sold or destroyed without spousal approval in most cases.

It is sometimes possible to negotiate leveraging other assets, such as investments, stocks and bonds or real estate in exchange for a quit-claim on the artist’s work moving forward. This would depend upon several factors, including the appraised value of the work versus the value of the assets being offered in lieu of a continuing interest in the artwork. Another consideration might be child support and alimony, which may change the complexion of a settlement agreement.

When starting on a divorce case for an artist, an attorney may begin by having the marital estate appraised for both actual and speculative value. Once this is complete, the attorney might draw up a settlement proposal outlining what is being offered to the other spouse and detailing equitable distribution of marital assets. Should the settlement process fail, the attorney may argue for the client’s interests and a speedy resolution in a trial.

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