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What Happens to My Expensive Collectibles in a California Divorce?

Property division is one of the most important and contentious issues in any divorce, and it can be even more challenging when it involves collections such as coins, stamps, antiques, or art. Not only are these items financially valuable, but they also hold a significant sentimental value for the collector.

Divorcing spouses must have a clear understanding of what should happen to their prized possessions, and doing so requires well-informed decisions.

This article discusses how Californian law affects the divisions of expensive collectibles in a divorce. Learning this information can help you formulate strategies for productive negotiations.

California Divorce Laws and Their Impact on Collectibles

Generally, any property you acquire during the marriage is considered “marital property,” and both spouses own it equally. Since the spouses are co-owners, they must divide this property in their divorce. This includes everything from art and antiques to sports memorabilia and comic books.

Such property division can become quite complicated in a divorce. You may have acquired a large portion of your collection before the marriage, making it separate property. Any individual piece you added during the marriage, however, is technically marital property. You may need meticulous records of acquisition dates and payment methods to determine which pieces are separate versus marital property.

If the couple cannot agree on how to divide their collectibles, a judge will be responsible for determining who gets what.

How to Protect Your Collectibles in a Divorce

  1. Make an inventory of all your collectibles, and take pictures of the most valuable or significant pieces.
  2. Consider contacting a professional appraiser to help with accurate value assessment and authoritative documentation.
  3. Store your collectibles in a secure location, such as a bank safe, storage unit, or deposit box to prevent theft or damage.
  4. Work with your lawyer to help with all property division, and make it clear that you want to keep your collectibles.

The Drawbacks of Keeping Your Collectibles in California

California is one of only nine states in the US that practices community property laws. This system requires that all marital property must be divided equally in a divorce. Therefore, even when you keep an asset, you may owe your spouse half its value.

There are various options for dividing property equally in a divorce settlement.

One approach is to trade property with your spouse, where each of you keeps the property you want and exchange the assets that you don't.

Another option is to sell the property and divide the profits equally, providing a clean financial separation.

Finally, you could pay your spouse half the value of the property.

Whatever method you choose, a lawyer can help guide and strategize the process toward a fair solution.

Avoiding The Court and Community Property System

Fortunately, you have alternatives. You and your spouse can create any asset division system you choose, and leave the courts out of it.

With any divorce agreement, both parties work together to decide who gets what property, bank accounts, and precious collectibles. This process may involve hiring a mediator or a lawyer to help navigate through complex issues.

Both parties must fully understand the agreement before entering it, and you should have the terms officially written and notarized. By creating a property division agreement outside of court, you can maintain some control and make decisions based on fairness, not a 50/50 split that can hurt you overall.

Singleton Smith Law Offices, Inc. is here to help you protect your important property in a divorce. We offer free consultations, so call us today at (951) 779-1610 or contact us online.