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What If My Spouse Wants My Rare Collectibles in the Divorce?

These days, many adults collect fun valuables. One quick YouTube search will reveal men and women with vast wings of their houses dedicated solely to collectibles. Enthusiasts amass everything from vinyl records to comic books, video games, home video releases, and more.

When going through a divorce, there are always concerns about what you will keep and what you will lose. Normally, these thoughts are centered around pragmatic assets. People want to keep the house, the car, their savings, etc.

Unfortunately, divorce can sometimes bring out the worst in people. Out of spiteful pettiness, one spouse may lay claim to another’s collectibles simply to hurt them.

Let’s discuss how your collection is legally categorized and how this affects your ability to keep your treasures.

  1. You May Not Be the Sole Owner of Your Collection

Within a marriage, there are two types of property: marital (or community) property and separate property. Community property belongs to each spouse equally, and separate property belongs to just one person.

Marital property is anything that was purchased during the marriage. Separate property is anything you owned before the marriage, gifts from people outside the marriage, and any inheritance you received. Standards vary from state to state, but generally, this is how the law designates marital and separate property.

If any portion of your collection was purchased while you were married, your spouse may be able to claim ownership of that property. You can argue that each piece is part of the entire collection, but they can argue that they partially own specific pieces.

  1. You Must Argue for Sole Ownership of Your Collection

When dividing marital property, the court is most concerned with fairness. Fairness doesn’t always translate to who paid the bills. For instance, if you buy your spouse a car, the court will probably let them keep it.

When it comes to your collection, you must prove that you deserve to keep it. You must demonstrate that you were the main user of and contributor to the collection.

Moreover, a strong argument will demonstrate why your spouse doesn’t deserve it. Use evidence that reveals their complete lack of involvement in the collection, down to how little they used the items. For instance, explain that they never listened to the records in your collection, nor did they buy any records in said collection. The best arguments will show that they actively hindered your ability to collect. Maybe they constantly complained about your having the collection or pressured you to get rid of it.

  1. Keeping Your Collection Can Still Cost You

Depending on the state, keeping any property can carry a cost. Most states use the “equitable” division model. Generally, this system gives property to the most deserving spouse outright, with little need to compensate the other partner.

California uses the more traditional “equal” division model. In this system, the goal is to give each spouse 50% of the marital assets. Therefore, when you keep something, you must give your spouse half its value.

This can become a big problem if you have a large collection of valuables. Most likely, these treasures were accumulated over time. Sometimes you spent big to acquire a rare piece, and sometimes you spent a little just to grab a couple of fun pieces. Either way, the accumulated value can be vast. More importantly, this value is tied into the pieces themselves. It may be impossible to simply pay your spouse half the value of your collection.

Luckily, you can trade assets rather than give your spouse cash. You can hand over more property to keep your collection. As long as each party walks away with 50% of the marital assets, a trade should be fine.

  1. You Have Options Other Than Court

Divorce often conjures images of courtrooms, judges, and people “losing everything.” Fortunately, you have options that don’t involve court.

Any divorcing couple is free to make whatever decisions they choose. They can decide on spousal support, child support, division of assets, and more. You can negotiate keeping the collection directly with your spouse. Afterward, you submit these agreements to court, and you must follow the conditions of these agreements. Beyond that, you needn’t include any other legal entity.

In reality, however, most spouses will find it difficult to make these agreements alone. There is a reason they are getting divorced, and bitter feelings can make it hard to work together. To these couples, we suggest mediation. You and your spouse will meet with a legal professional to negotiate the terms of your divorce. This mediator remains neutral and works hard to satisfy everyone. You are ultimately making all decisions together; you’re just getting a little help along the way.

If you’re concerned about your personal treasures, you should involve an attorney in your divorce. Our firm can help with mediation, and we can represent you in court if necessary. Call us today at (916) 299-3936 or contact us online.