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You've always been an art lover -- and so has your spouse. You've amassed a significant collection of pieces in your life together. Now that your marriage is ending, however, you have to find a way to split the collection fairly.

This is a common problem that can pertain to just about any kind of collection that you have. Even something that you thought of as entirely "your thing" can become part of an ugly battle for the marital assets. For example, your spouse may never have so much as left a fingerprint on your coin collection but will now claim that half of its contents (or value) is really theirs.

What do you do? Here are some options:

1. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements

As always, the best time to address a problem is before it ever develops. If you have the foresight to get a prenuptial agreement regarding your artwork or collections it can solve a lot of problems. If you don't have a prenup, a postnup can accomplish the same thing. (Don't try to trick your spouse into signing one if you're already planning to divorce, however. The court may not look terribly kindly on that kind of action.)

2. Selling the collection and dividing the proceeds

You can always agree to sell the art or collection. Liquid assets are generally easier to divide. If you don't have a strong emotional attachment to the collection, that might be the easiest route to take.

3. Dividing things up or buying each other out.

You can have the collection or individual pieces appraised so that you and your spouse can make informed decisions. You can then decide on a fair way to split things up, whether that involves each of you picking one item at a time or one party buying out the other party's share.

When you're faced with a complex property issue in your divorce, don't try to handle things on your own. Early legal advice can help you get a positive outcome.

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