Skip to Main Content

Dividing Art in a Columbus Divorce

In many high asset divorces in Columbus, marital property will include valuable art, from paintings to sculptures to mixed media works on paper. Given that the market value of art can shift significantly over time and based on demand and other factors, it can be especially difficult to divide art in a divorce. If you are planning to file for divorce in Ohio and share an art collection with your spouse, it is critical to learn more about the complexities of dividing art in a Columbus divorce and strategies for ensuring that the creative works are properly valued and distributed equitably between the parties. If you have questions or need counsel, you should seek advice from a Columbus divorce attorney with experience handling high net worth divorce cases in Ohio.

Determine Whether the Art is Separate or Marital Property

In an Ohio divorce, all property must be classified as separate or marital property. Under Ohio law, non-marital or separate property will be retained by the spouses while marital property must be valued and divided based on the theory of equitable distribution. Accordingly, the first thing to consider when it comes to dividing art in a Columbus divorce is whether the art should be classified as marital or separate property. To determine whether the art is marital or separate property, you will need to consider the following details of the piece or pieces:

  • Was the art purchased prior to the date of the marriage?
  • Was the art acquired with separate property if it was acquired after the date of marriage, such as through a trade? 
  • Was the art inherited by one of the spouses during the marriage?
  • Was the art given solely to one of the spouses as a gift from a third party, such as from the artist, during the marriage?
  • Has the art been expressly excluded from property division through a prenuptial agreement?

In any of these circumstances, the art may be separate property and will not be divisible in the divorce.

Determine the Value of the Art

When one or more pieces of art are likely to be classified as marital property and thus will be divisible in the divorce, it is critical to ensure that the art is properly valued. While determining the value of some marital assets may be relatively easy, valuing artwork can be extremely complicated. Over time, the market value of art can fluctuate wildly. According to an ArtNet news release, all of the following factors can affect the value of an artwork at any given point in time:

  • Recent and past exhibition history of the artist;
  • Sales history in galleries and at auction;
  • Career level of the artist;
  • Size of the piece;
  • Recent or renewed attention, if any, to the artist’s work; and
  • Condition of the artwork.

 To ensure that your artwork is valued properly, you will need to work with an appraiser who has expertise in the type of art you own with your spouse and, often, in the specific artist’s work. For example, if you own several Monet paintings, you will need to hire an appraiser who specializes in French impressionism. Or, for example, if you own several works by prominent 20th-century Haitian painters, you will need an appraiser with experience in the world of Haitian art.

Contact a Columbus High Asset Divorce Lawyer

If you have questions about dividing art in a divorce, our Columbus high asset divorce attorneys can help. Contact the Lawrence Law Office today.

Lawrence Law Office

Contact Us



496 S 3rd St Columbus, OH 43215

get directions

call us

P: (614) 228-3664
F: (614) 228-3798