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New Jersey divorcees may be surprised by what counts as assets

Those who seek divorces in New Jersey and other locales might discover that their creative work counts as value-bearing assets that can be dispensed at a court's discretion. Individuals like artists, whose pieces are sometimes subject to the terms of licensing contracts and other arrangements, could have their works deemed marital or communal property by family law officials. When determining the speculative or real value of such property, both spouses have the option to hire their own appraisers.

According to some legal consultants and family law specialists, certain artworks aren't considered dividable property. The date of an artwork's creation is generally held to be the standard, with courts only assuming jurisdiction over works executed between the issuance of a marriage license and the separation or divorce filing. Artists who obtain divorces should, however, account for all their works in the list of assets in order to lessen the likelihood of future litigation. This includes disclosing the existence, location and licensing status of any work, regardless of whether it has been exhibited or finished.

Divorces can also impact what artists are permitted to do with their art. Prior to the actual issuance of formal divorce decrees, for instance, artists often need to obtain consent from their spouses before they sell, transfer or destroy existing work. In some cases, artists agree to split licensing revenue, royalties and other derivatives in order to gain more advantage during divorce proceedings; these percentage-based agreements may even apply to funds received for a set period following a legal split.

Family law proceedings could result in unconventional property-sharing arrangements that affect people's creative careers. For artists, designers and other creative professionals, it may be wise to seek consultation about the status of different works and properties in order to draft more workable divorce agreements.

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