Many Michigan couples enjoy building collections of great value during their marriage, such as art collections, coin collections, rare book collections, sports collections and other types of collections. When those couples decide to get divorced, much of the collection may be classified as marital property and thus subject to division under Michigan law. The prospect of dividing marital property can be particularly distressing with the existence of a collection. While most other types of marital property can be appraised or valued relatively easily, and can be sold to divide profits without too much emotional attachment from either spouse, collections often are viewed differently. This scenario involving complex property division can be more difficult than others.
Each spouse might have an attachment to the objects in the collection, making it extremely difficult to agree to any type of settlement in which the collection is divided. Moreover, it is often unlikely that either spouse will want the court to order that the collection be sold so that the profits can be divided given that they may have spent years putting it together. Finally, appraising rare collections can be an extremely complex process. The following are some considerations when dividing valuable collections in a Michigan divorce.
Find and Copy All Purchase Records
Many people who build collections keep careful records related to the purchase of the objects. Whether it is a painting or a rare book, it will be extremely important to have as much information as possible about when you purchased the item and how much you paid for it. If any part of the collection was purchased prior to the marriage, it will most likely be classified as separate property and will not be divisible in the divorce. Likewise, if one of the items was given to you as a gift during the marriage, or was inherited during the marriage, it may be classified as separate property and will not be distributed in the divorce.
Beyond the date of purchase, locating records of purchase can help you to have some information about pricing and valuation. Although collectible items can fluctuate greatly in terms of market value over the years, knowing the price you paid for it (and when you paid that price) can be helpful in determining a present-day value for the item.
Work with an Experienced Appraiser
Unique collections can be difficult to appraise without working with an appraiser who has particular knowledge about the specific types of objects in the collection.
You will want to hire an appraiser who has experience learning about fluctuations in the market value for the types of items you own, and who can provide accurate appraisals for objects for which there might not be any recent reference points in auctions or other sales. For example, if you have a particularly rare book in your collection that has not come up for sale in decades, it will be essential to have an appraiser who can estimate the actual market value of the piece based on his or her experience in the trade.
Contact a Michigan Divorce Attorney
Going through a divorce is difficult under any circumstances, but the process of property division can be extremely complicated when you have a valuable collection that will be subject to division. An experienced Michigan divorce attorney can assist you. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins for more information.