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How to handle high-value collectibles during divorce in Illinois

On Behalf of | Nov 12, 2021 | Divorce |

High-value collectibles are irreplaceable and very difficult to come by. The rarity of the items creates a notion of high value and the owners often acquire them either through auctions or inheritance. Antique items have a higher material value and appreciate with age. If the collectibles were handed down to you by an older family member, then they may hold more than just material value. If they hold sentimental value, that can be difficult to quantify.

High-value collectibles can impact your divorce. It’s important to determine who owns the rights to collectibles for effective property division during divorce. 

Who has a right to collectible items in Illinois divorce?

According to Illinois legal statutes, marital property is any property acquired or collected during the marriage and before the legal separation or dissolution of the marriage is considered. Marital property is subject to equitable division in the event of a divorce. Illinois is an equitable division state, meaning that the court divides marital property in a manner they see fit and fair to both spouses. This could imply a 70/30, 40/60 or 50/50 split depending on several factors. 

Property acquired during the marriage that is not considered marital property include:

  • Gifts or any property exchanged for the respective gifts
  • Property exchanged for items acquired before the marriage
  • Property excluded by a prenup agreement
  • Capital gains from non-marital property

If the collectibles were a gift or family heirloom or acquired before the marriage, then all ownership rights belong to the spouse who collected them.

How to determine the value of collectibles in divorce

Antiques and other vintage items can be of considerably high value. Given the changes in the economic market, the values can vary. In addition, collections tend to be of higher value than individual items. It’s therefore important to determine the exact value of your collectibles to facilitate fair property division during divorce. This requires the help of a professional appraiser.

How are high-value collectibles divided in a divorce?

Appraisers account for the material value of collectibles and not sentinel value. If one spouse feels an attachment to their collection, they can opt to buy off the other spouse. Alternatively, the collectibles can be sold and the money earned split between the spouses. Factors that determine an equitable division of collectibles include:

The duration of the marriage, the net worth of both spouses, alimony provisions, financial contributions and even non-financial contributions all factor in determining how to divide collectibles.