How are Fine Wines Divided in a California Divorce?

Wed 9th November, 2022 General

Do you have a collection of fine wines? Fine wine collections are common in California, which is internationally renowned for its spectacular vineyards. These collections can be worth tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. In some cases, California wine collections are worth half a million dollars or more. This means that these collections are a significant asset and may be subject to equitable division in a divorce. If you have a fine wine collection and you are concerned about how divorce could affect your possessions, read on to find out how fine wine collections are treated in a California divorce. It is also a good idea to consult directly with a California divorce attorney who can provide feedback on your specific situation.

Is a Wine Collection Shared Property?

California is a community property state. This means that all marital property is subject to being divided down the middle between both spouses. This also means that the most important question to ask when it comes to considering how property will be divided in a divorce is what constitutes marital property as opposed to separate property. Generally, marital property is considered any property or assets acquired during the course of the divorce. On the other hand, separate property is generally anything that either spouse owned independently prior to the marriage.

A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can also specify that property should be treated as separate even if it is acquired during the marriage. There are also some exceptions, such as when property is received as a gift by one spouse from a third party. This will be treated as separate property, whereas a gift given to the couple or between spouses will be treated as marital property. For this reason, a wine collection may have to be considered bottle by bottle to determine how each wine will be treated. Wines owned by either spouse prior to the marriage, received through an inheritance, or gifted by a third party to an individual spouse, may be treated as separate property. The remaining wines will likely be determined to be marital property subject to equitable distribution.

How is Wine Divided in a Divorce?

Once you have narrowed down which wines are considered to be marital property, you will have to determine the value of these wines. In order to do this, it will be important to have the wines appraised, especially if some of them are rare or have valuations that are difficult to determine. Generally, the value will be determined based on the current fair market value of the wine. Once you know the total value of the shared wine collection, you and your spouse can negotiate how you want the wines divided. If one spouse wishes to keep the collection, they may be able to buy out the other spouse’s share or trade them an asset equivalent to the value of their share. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement, the judge may divide the wine as well as other assets in order to give each spouse an equal share of their marital estate. If it is necessary, the judge may order the wine collection to be auctioned off or liquidated so that the proceeds can be divided equally between spouses.

Contact the Law Office of Bradley S. Sandler in Beverly Hills, California

If you are going through a divorce, it is important to make sure that the assets you care most about are protected. Contact the Law Office of Bradley S. Sandler in Beverly Hills, California, today to schedule a consultation.