Divorcing couples with significant assets know that they can either have a flat-out battle, mutual agreement or let the legal process work it out when deciding who gets to keep specific antiques, collectibles and priceless items. These things are all part of the property division aspect of divorce. And some couples may fight tooth-and-nail over them.

It’s just another of the complexities that surfaces when wealthy couples divorce. Who gets the fine art such as the Gaugin painting, the Modigliani paintings and sculptures or Man Ray prints? Who gets the collection of centuries-old Persian rugs? And what about the 1909 Honus Wagner baseball card, Eric Clapton’s guitar, vintage cars, exotic animals and wine collection?

Marital and non-marital property

The path toward resolution can be difficult. Working out agreements over assets worth millions is not so simple. Not only do some of these collectibles hold sentimental value for you, but you also invested a great amount of money to own them.

When dividing such assets, it really all comes down to whether an item is marital or non-marital property. If you and your soon-to- be ex-spouse purchased certain valuable items while you were married, then they are marital property. These items get equally divided. Sometimes, when  the parting couple cannot agree on who gets to keep which items, there is no other option other than to sell them.

But if you already owned certain items and collectibles prior to the marriage, you keep them because they are non-marital property. Follow these steps when preparing to divide valuable collectibles:

  • Make an inventory of everything in question. The list may include precious jewelry, rare coins, comic books and even toys.
  • Determine the value of each item. Enlist a valuations expert to determine the market value.

Parting with some of your valuable collections may tug at your heartstrings as well as your wallet. When you must do so while going through a divorce, make sure to know just how valuable they are. And always, always be on the lookout for any assets hidden by your estranged spouse. Working with a skilled divorce attorney is a good idea, too.