Who gets the artwork you made during your marriage?

As an artist, your art is an expression of yourself. The last thing you think of it as is an asset. It’s more than a piece of property, like a sofa or a car. Your artistic expression is who you are. It reflects you in a deeper way. It has meaning to you that, though you sell it and work commercially, goes far beyond money.

So, when your spouse asks for a divorce, you naturally assume that the art stays with you. After all, you created it. Nothing could possibly belong to you more. You shared your life with your spouse, but your art is yours and yours alone, right? It’s not as if you purchased it together. It’s something you made. It’s something you created. Your emotions, insights and talents are wrapped up in it.

Marital property

While the way you feel about your art is valid, it is important to note that the court doesn’t see it the same way. To them, art is just property. It is just an asset. It’s something that you made that has a monetary value. Regardless of the medium, the way you put it together increased the value of the raw materials and pieces, but it’s still just something that you did to give that asset value.

Moreover, since you created the art while you were married, that art is now marital property in the eyes of the court. Your spouse does have a claim to it, just as much as you do, even though they had nothing to do with its creation. It’s an asset you acquired while the two of you were still together.

The stockpile

It’s easy to think this way about assets you bought or money you made. If you sold a piece for $1 million, you know that both you and your ex may have a claim to that $1 million. It’s income. No, you don’t go to a nine-to-five job, but it’s still income.

Where this gets tricky, though, is that you may have a stockpile of art that you have yet to sell. If you own six pieces that you made during the marriage, what do they appraise at? How much are they worth? You have not sold them yet, but your spouse may still claim that they deserve a portion of that value. You cannot split these assets up like you would with cash, so how are the two of you going to come to an agreement?

Your options

As you can see, it’s time to ask a lot of important questions about art, assets, wealth and property division. Make sure you know what options you have as you move toward divorce in Connecticut.