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Colorado artists' divorces include their work

When Colorado artists begin the divorce process, they should be aware that their creations and intellectual property are still considered marital assets. This extends to all works created or sold during the marriage, but exempts those created before the marriage or after legal separation began. Artists' spouses may claim certain pieces or interests in residual income or copyright from such pieces for a given time or percentage of the work's appraised value.

In order to assure a fair division of marital assets, an artist must draw up a complete inventory of all works created. In addition, the appraised or speculative value of each piece that remains unsold must be added to the sale price of all sold works. Any pieces that remain unsold must be accounted for and their specific locations noted. Failure to do this can result in the other spouse suing for fraud later.

In addition, artists' copyright and residual interests in their work may be factored into child and spousal support calculations, especially if the spouse is claiming a fiduciary interest in the works. In some cases, artists who have achieved a substantial enough reputation to acquire other items of value such as property or investment accounts may be able to barter control of these assets for free and clear control of the artist's work.

When analyzing the marital assets of an artist in preparation for a divorce, an attorney might begin with a complete inventory and appraisal of the artist's work to ensure a full disclosure of the marital estate. Once this is done, the attorney and client may work out a settlement offer that assures future artistic control of the works in question. A settlement may then be presented to the court for final approval.

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