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How do we divide a collection in our divorce?

On Behalf of | Apr 25, 2024 | Divorce |

When a marriage ends, dividing assets becomes a necessary hurdle. Among these assets, collections—whether they involve art, antiques or even rare memorabilia—pose unique challenges. These items aren’t just commodities; they often hold significant emotional value and can be worth substantial sums of money.

The intricacies of appraisal

Dividing a collection is not as straightforward as splitting something like a bank account. Here’s why:

  • Valuation variance: The true worth of collectibles can fluctuate wildly depending on market trends and condition.
  • Emotional attachment: Sentimental value doesn’t always align with monetary value but can heavily influence decisions during negotiations.
  • Integrity impact: Sometimes, keeping the collection intact is more valuable than individual pieces, affecting the division process.
  • Maintenance matters: The ongoing cost to preserve a collection can affect its desirability in division and other aspects of a settlement.
  • Property classification: Determining if items are separate or shared property adds complexity. This classification will affect ownership and the equitable distribution of other assets.

For these and other reasons, appraising and dividing collections in a divorce require careful consideration beyond simple arithmetic.

Tips for tackling this process

People can be quite attached to collections for many reasons, making it stressful to broach the subject of division. However, reducing this stress during divorce is possible. Consider these suggestions:

  • Determine if you have a valid prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement that includes terms for dividing, selling or keeping a collection. 
  • Commit to negotiating the division outside of court to retain more control over the decisions. If this is not possible, the courts will make the determination.
  • Working with professionals knowledgeable in specific types of collections can ensure accurate valuations and assessments.

These measures help protect both the financial investment and emotional significance of your treasured collection.

Being cautious with collections

Collections represent more than just potential cash; they can reflect a collector’s passion and time, or they may be family heirlooms others have passed down or something you plan to leave to your kids. As such, handling their division with care is essential during divorce proceedings. Remembering their worth—in all senses—is key to reaching equitable solutions regarding these and other valuable assets.