Is my collection safe during a divorce?
Whether you collect coins, trains, sports memorabilia, fine wine, art or Steiff bears, if you get divorced then your much loved (and possibly valuable collection) could be at risk. So how do you protect it during a divorce?
If you are an avid collector before you get married, then you could agree in a prenuptial agreement your intentions for the division of wealth and assets accumulated during the marriage, as well as those that you bring to it. Whilst not legally binding, if both parties take legal advice and the document is witnessed and signed then it can help to protect your collection.
Similarly, it is also possible to draw up a postnuptial agreement which is largely the same as a prenuptial agreement, but this is done after the marriage has taken place.
In the absence of a prenup or postnup then a collection and the items within it will be classed as a ‘chattel’ and if it has a significant value then it is more likely to be contested. If you are not able to reach an agreement or offset the value of your collection as a whole – say against other assets, savings, or investments then it may need to be valued, sold and the proceeds divided equally.
If you have moved out of your family home and left items behind then unless you have reached an agreement with your former spouse it could be difficult for you to recover those items in the future. The family courts are often reluctant to get involved in the ownership of individual items, especially those of sentimental and not great monetary value and they will normally just order an auction to achieve a 50:50 split if an agreement cannot be reached.
And what if you discover after your divorce that an item in your collection is very valuable, how can you prevent your former spouse from asking for a share in the future? It is important to ensure you have a consent order which has been drafted by a solicitor and approved by the court which provides for a clean break in respect of such future claims. This can help to protect you from a future rise in value of your assets.
It is really important to give thought to your individual hobbies, collections, and personal items to ensure you can protect them from changing life circumstances in the future.
If you would like to speak to our team about prenup or postnup agreements or any aspect of a separation or divorce, please get in touch with our team today.
Sunita Chauhan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org