In Florida, assets held in a marital estate are divided in an equitable fashion in a divorce settlement. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily lose some or all of an art collection when your marriage comes to an end. What actually happens to a painting, sculpture or other creative work depends on when it was acquired and where it is held.
Date of acquisition matters
Any assets that are acquired before the marriage starts are generally considered to be your sole property. Therefore, they are likely exempt from being split in a divorce settlement. However, it’s possible that your spouse will be entitled to a portion of any appreciation in value realized during the marriage. For instance, if a painting increases in value by $1 million prior to the divorce, your spouse may be entitled to half of that amount.
Assets may be held outside of the marital estate
If your art collection is held in a trust, it is considered to be outside of the marital estate. Therefore, it will not be considered eligible for division in a divorce settlement. An exception might be if the trust was invalidated because it was created in bad faith. For instance, if the document was executed just days before filing for divorce, a judge may assume that it was created simply to improperly shield assets.
As with any other asset, an art collection may be ceded to your spouse as part of a final settlement. However, with careful and proactive planning, you may be able to either keep prized pieces or retain the equity that you have accrued in them.