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If you’re an artist, does your spouse have any ownership rights over your work? 

| Apr 1, 2021 | Divorce |

Naturally, you believe that all artwork you create — paintings, drawings, digital works, etc — belongs to you. While you’re married, if you asked your spouse, they’d agree with you. The art is yours. 

If you get divorced, though, how does the court look at your body of work? Do you get to keep it all? Does your spouse have any right to what you’ve made?

Artwork can be considered marital property

It may not be as simple as you’d assume. The issue is that courts can treat artwork as marital property. Assets that you created while married — and, if you’re making hundreds of thousands of dollars per year from your art, these are seriously valuable assets — belong to you both jointly. 

This doesn’t mean that the court is going to give your paintings or drawings to your ex, but that their value may be considered when dividing assets. For instance, say that you own a home that is worth $500,000. You also have five unsold paintings, which are worth, for the sake of simplicity, $100,000 each. You may assume that you’ll get half of the home, but the court may actually say that you get to keep the paintings and that their value should be offset by giving your ex the entire home. 

Understanding your situation is key to a successful outcome

If you’re getting divorced, it is critical to really understand your position from a legal standpoint. It may not be exactly how you assumed it would be, and you need to know what steps to take to protect your interests. The sooner you speak with an experienced attorney, the better.