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Does my spouse have a claim on my artwork?

On Behalf of | Jul 7, 2021 | High-net Worth Property Division |

Becoming a successful artist is the dream of many people. However, if you have achieved some measure of success, then you know that with the triumphs come certain tribulations.

Nowhere is that more apparent than where the law intersects with your art. Furthermore, divorce tends to be an emotionally thorny process in addition to being legally complex.

Property and marriage

The root of your probable divorce property division complications is the concept of community property. As the name implies, this is (broadly speaking) an idea that you and your spouse share ownership of certain categories of assets.

Common examples include family homes, retirement plans, savings accounts and so on. However, as an artist, you might have more complex property to consider.

Copyright and divorce

For all intents and purposes, the law grants you automatic rights over your work. As explained on Artnet, these rights might come under fire during divorce in community property states, such as California.

In California, the reason is a combination of statutory law about property division and some important former cases that awarded divorcing spouses partial ownership over copyright. Louisiana is another state with powerful precedents that would favor your spouse’s claim to your artworks.

The idea of community property goes both ways, of course. If, for example, your spouse had an executive position at a corporation, you would probably have a claim on the financial instruments that comprise the complex compensation packages and retirement benefits typical of these types of jobs. An in-depth look at the nature of every asset in the marriage should help you get an idea of what each of you truly deserves.