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Creative works of New Jersey artists are assets in a divorce

For artists in New Jersey, a divorce can mean that their artistic and literary works will be on the table when it is time to negotiate an equitable distribution of property. The value of copyrights and licensing agreements is also a consideration, and some divorce agreements grant the non-artist spouses a share of future income.

Precedents set by divorces of celebrity artists like Jerry Lewis and Charles M. Schulz of Peanuts fame validate the right of non-artist spouses to a claim upon art assets. A lawyer experienced in both family law and intellectual property explained that artists sometimes do not think of their creations as property, but legally they are. In addition, for married artists, the art is marital property. Artwork created prior to a marriage, however, may be excluded from marital assets.

Another divorce lawyer who has represented artists generally advises that individuals make an inventory of art assets, including copyrights and licenses. Determining the value of unsold pieces typically requires that appraisers or gallery professionals make the estimates. The divorcing spouses might choose their own appraisers and then have to rely on negotiations or a court to set the final values.

An artist entering into divorce negotiations and property division might turn to an lawyer to learn about his or her rights. Typically, the courts consider fairness when making final determinations of a couples assets. A lawyer might be able to advocate on behalf of an artist to uphold his or her claim to artistic works and a fair share of future revenue during negotiations.

Source: The Huffington Post, "For Artists, Divorce Means Splitting Up the (Art) Assets," Daniel Grant, March 3, 2015

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