Collectibles need special attention when settling a divorce

You can build a collection out of almost any objects that interest you. Although some collections hold primarily sentimental value to their owners, some of them consist of items with significant value. During a divorce, a collection may be a source of contention or simply present New York estranged spouses with questions about its value. To account for your collection during a divorce, you need to determine if it is marital property and what its current market value could be.

Examples of collectibles

Some people buy collectibles for fun without much concern for future value. In other situations, collectors gather items that they view as investments.

Collectibles that may have value:

  • Vintage or luxury cars
  • Sports memorabilia
  • Wine
  • Fine art
  • Comic books
  • Jewelry and coins
  • Antiques

Marital property

Generally speaking, collectibles that you acquired prior to marriage are your own property. If you need to defend this fact during a divorce, you will need to produce purchase receipts. Items bought after marriage are marital property unless addressed within a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

Difficulty often occurs for collectors because you probably bought some items while single and bought more items after the marriage. Your spouse may also have bought some collectibles as gifts for you. Once again, documentation becomes important to sorting out how much of the collection falls within the marital estate.


To negotiate the division of marital property, you may need to consult one or more specialty appraisers to find out what your collection is worth. If you collect coins, then you would hire a coin appraiser. Appraisal of an art collection would need opinions from an appropriate gallery or auction house. Documentation and certificates of authenticity play an important role in determining value.

In a best case scenario, you and your estranged spouse will reach an agreement about who keeps the collection or how to split it up between the two of you. Short of that, you may need to sell the collection and divide the proceeds or exchange something else of equal value during negotiations.