Dividing collections and collectibles during a divorce

Whether you love art, stamps, comic books, furniture or anything else, you take great pride in your collection. After all, it likely represents years of hard work tracking down unique items. Your collection may also be worth a fortune. Nonetheless, if the collectibles you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse own are marital property, you must plan for dealing with them during your divorce.

New Jersey law uses an equitable distribution system for dividing marital wealth. While not guaranteeing each spouse receives precisely 50% of marital assets, this approach ensures both spouses get a fair share. Accordingly, when it comes to your collection, you likely have some tasks to address.

Assigning ownership

Marital property is typically anything that is not separate property. Separate property includes assets you acquired before your marriage and those you specifically took steps to keep separate. Put simply, if you obtained collectibles during your marriage, they are likely marital assets. As such, you and your spouse probably have an ownership interest in your collection.

Calculating value

While some collections have more sentimental than monetary value, others are quite valuable. Unfortunately, though, valuing a collection can be challenging. Owners of collectibles often choose to rely on the knowledge of a professional appraiser. Because collectibles can be difficult to sell, though, the appraiser’s valuation may be more theoretical than practical.

Dividing items

After you assign ownership and calculate the value of your collection, you have some options for dividing items. For example, either you or your spouse may elect to keep the entire collection in exchange for surrendering other assets. You may alternatively decide to divide the collection, with both of you keeping some collectibles. Moreover, you may be able to sell the complete collection and split the proceeds.

You probably have a considerable amount of time, money and effort invested in your collection. As such, you want to be sure you address it properly during your divorce. By understanding your options, you improve your odds of receiving an equitable share of your collectibles or their value.