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How is artwork divided equitably in a Michigan divorce?

If you and your spouse are getting a divorce in the state of Michigan, your marital property is subject to equitable, or fair, distribution. A recent Huffington Post article cautions that, while the value of some of your assets may be straightforward, artwork valuation and division may be more complex, particularly if you are the artist. In the eyes of the court, you and your spouse each have an equally valid claim in the equitable division of the value of the artwork.

To ensure that a correct estimate is reached, all artwork created or sold during the marriage has to be listed in an inventory. If you are the artist, all works that are still in your possession will need to be appraised by a professional, and your spouse may also hire an appraiser to get a second opinion for negotiation purposes. Appraisal reports provide descriptions, conditions and fair market value of each piece.

While the property division is ongoing, both you and your spouse must agree to any action, such as sales, placement in galleries or other loan or display situations taken regarding the artwork in question. If you do not want to liquidate certain pieces of your art, you may agree to trade other assets of equal value.

In the case of copyright and ongoing royalties, your spouse may agree to a percentage of the yearly profits, and this typically decreases over time. This is especially the case if you are an established artist with a significant body of work gathering revenue, such as books or films. 

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Lorrie J. Zahodnic

"I will hold you up until you can stand on your own two feet."

Lorrie J. Zahodnic, P.C. has provided skilled and compassionate legal guidance to Michiganders in family law matters for over 20 years.

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