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Addressing Fine Art in an Illinois Divorce Case

Posted on in Illinois Divorce

IL divorce lawyerFor art lovers, the pieces they have accumulated throughout the years are more than just property. They are valuable investments with great financial and personal value. Unfortunately, owning expensive artwork or other collectibles can complicate a divorce case significantly. The true financial value of a painting or sculpture is not easily ascertained, and spouses may disagree about the value of art. Spouses may also disagree about who should keep artwork, antiques, or collections. In some cases, art and collectibles are even used as vehicles for financial fraud in a divorce case.

Valuing Property During Property Distribution

Illinois couples may be able to reach their own property division arrangement without the court’s involvement. They may be able to negotiate a mutually-satisfactory agreement through their attorneys or during the divorce mediation process. However, before they can determine a fair division of property, they must determine the property’s value. This often requires input from a professional appraiser. If the couple cannot reach a property division settlement, the court will need to know the precise value of the assets to determine an equitable division of property. Consequently, having the artwork professionally valued is often the first step toward addressing art during divorce.

Who Gets to Keep Artwork?

The value of a rare or valuable piece of art is not only monetary. Art enthusiasts also place great sentimental value on artwork. Deciding who should get to keep the art after divorce is often a major point of contention. If a divorce case goes to trial, the division of property is decided by the court. According to Illinois divorce law, art and other assets accumulated during the marriage are usually marital property. However, there are exceptions. For example, if a spouse inherited a painting from a relative, the painting may be considered non-marital property belonging solely to that spouse. Illinois courts divide property equitably based on many factors, including the spouses’ financial resources, duration of the marriage, and standard of living experienced by the couple during the marriage.

Fine Art May Be Used to Hide Assets

Unfortunately, some spouses try to cheat the property division process by undervaluing or not reporting certain assets. For example, a spouse may buy an expensive piece of art but report the art’s value as much less than it actually is worth. Once the divorce is complete, he or she sells the artwork. This type of financial fraud is unlawful. If you suspect that your spouse is using art or other hard-to-value assets to falsify information during your divorce, reach out to a lawyer right away.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer

If you are getting divorced and you or your spouse own high-value art, collectibles, antiques, or other assets, contact a Kane County divorce attorney for help. Call Weiler & Lengle P.C. at 630-382-8050 for a confidential consultation.


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