What happens to creative work in a divorce?

For most couples, dividing property in a divorce is a simple matter of deciding who gets what assets and how to split the debts. However, if you or your spouse are an artist, it can make this part of the process more difficult. After all, you and your spouse may look at your creative works in different ways.

HuffPost Entertainment explains that even creative works are part of your marital property. Despite how personal you feel that painting or song or book was to create, the law sees it the same as any other asset you own. This is true even if you have a copyright because they are also marital property.


The only way you can claim an artistic work as nonmarital property is if you created it before your marriage or after you filed for divorce. Every other piece is marital property that the court will divide during the divorce process.

What you should do

If you have the artistic works, then you need to make a complete inventory of all your work during the marriage. Make sure you include creation dates and values. List how much each piece sold for and other details of how you make or made money from it, such as royalties.

Also, make sure you do not sell, loan or otherwise get rid of any pieces until you finalize your divorce. If you do this, you could face some issues with the court because it would be the same as getting rid of any other marital asset you own. You may also want to report every work, even those still in progress.

Having to give up part of your ownership in creative work is often difficult, but it may be something you have to do in a divorce. You may consider negotiating with your spouse and trade other assets for work for which you want to keep complete ownership.