What happens to art and collectibles if I get an Oregon divorce?

In many Oregon divorces, the determination as to how the couple’s assets get divided is among the most time-consuming and stressful. For many couples, the most important assets in a divorce are those that are liquid or have significant monetary value, such as bank accounts, real estate or retirement accounts. However, certain assets, such as art and other collectibles, may be more meaningful than they are valuable. Art and collectibles are treated the same as all other assets in an Oregon divorce, meaning they are subject to the state’s equitable distribution analysis.

What happens to art and collectibles if I get an Oregon divorce?

Oregon has unique laws that are quite different from surrounding states when it comes to the division of property. For starters, Oregon courts use the equitable distribution method when determining which spouse gets what. Under an equitable distribution framework, the court will consider all the circumstances of a marriage when dividing the couple’s property. This may include the length of the marriage, the total amount of assets available and each spouse’s contributions to the various assets. Under Oregon law, the court must consider a homemaker’s indirect contributions just as they consider the contributions of a spouse who works outside of the home. The court can consider anything, within reason, that it deems relevant to its decision.

When it comes to determining what pieces of art or collectibles are subject to equitable distribution, Oregon courts consider both marital and separate property. “Marital assets” are any property that was acquired during the marriage, including marital appreciation on premarital assets. An art collection that was purchased during a marriage will be considered a marital asset even if just one spouse purchased the collection. “Separate property,” on the other hand, is property that one spouse acquired before the marriage or which they acquired by gift during the marriage. If separate property is treated by the owning spouse as joint property, it may be “commingled” to the extent that it is treated the same as a marital asset.

Because both marital and separate property is considered in a divorce, a court could tap into a spouse’s separate assets and distribute some of those assets to the other spouse. This will not happen in every case, but it is a possibility that divorcing spouses must be aware of. Notably, there are different rules that apply to gifts and inheritances. Those who have significant art collections or other valuable collectibles should speak with a dedicated Oregon divorce attorney for assistance.

Other Frequently Asked Questions