What happens to valuable collectibles in affluent divorces?

On Behalf of | Apr 2, 2021 | Family Law | 0 comments

When the affluent go through marital problems and, eventually, pursue divorce, they initially go through the same legal steps as most average couples. They cover the same territories such as child support, child custody, spousal support/alimony and division of assets.

However, the key difference is that they have a lot more money than the average couple. And they likely spend their money on a few different things that they find indispensable but are generally out-of-reach for most. This list may include priceless art, much sought-after collectibles, yachts, vintage or exotic cars and wine. Now, what is going to happen with these things when the couple that own them go through a divorce?

Marital vs. non-marital property

The answer is not always that easy, especially when it comes to certain assets worth millions of dollars. Maybe you inherited some of these collections from your parents or other relatives. And, in such cases, sentimental value comes into play. However, sentiment is usually trumped by monetary value.

It all comes down to whether the items are marital or non-marital property. Did you inherit that Mickey Mantle’s rookie baseball card from your uncle? Then it is likely yours to keep. Did you purchase the Monet and Lichtenstein paintings while you were together as a couple? Then you may have to divide them equally.

The bottom line is that any item, including valuable ones, are marital property if obtained during the marriage. Equal division is likely necessary. In certain cases, if the couple cannot agree on who will get these items, the logical option is to sell them.

However, if you already had that expensive collection of wines from around the world stored in your wine cellar before you got married, then this property remains yours. Such a collection was acquired prior to your marriage.

Make an inventory, consult with valuations expert

Here are some key points to subscribe to when determining how to divide valuable collections:

  • Create an inventory for anything that would fit within this category. The list may include jewelry and gems, rare coins and books, watches, stamps, comic books and even thoroughbred horses.
  • After creating complete lists of the collections, get the items appraised. It likely works to your advantage in hiring a valuations expert. This person can determine the market value as well as current market demand.

Agreeing on what to do with these collections cannot always be determined by divorcing couples, especially those in the midst of a bitter fight. It is best to get third parties involved. Sure, you may have to part with some of the assets that are dear to you. In some cases, the best resolution is to just outright sell.