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Wealthy couple struggle to divide property in divorce

In California, almost all assets acquired during marriage are treated as community property, which is shared between couples 50-50. If a couple is unable to agree on how to split up their community property during a divorce, a judge will order that everything be divided equally. In most other states, assets are divided 'equitably", which does not necessarily mean equally. One New York divorce has made headlines as a wealthy couple battle over assets, which include real estate and artwork.

The estranged spouses, Libby and David Mugrabi, are well-known among private art collectors. Mr. Mugrabi's family has been attending art auctions for decades, and they are known for owning the largest private collection of Andy Warhol paintings. At issue in the divorce is any artwork acquired during marriage for personal use, which would be part of the couple's marital property. Ms. Mugrabi may also be entitled to artwork belonging to Mr. Mugrabi's business if she can show that she contributed to the business.

Ms. Mugrabi alleges that her husband removed $200 million worth of artwork from their home in order to avoid having to share it. Mr. Mugrabi is also suspected of hiding marital property in an offshore trust. He is further complicating the proceedings by refusing to discuss child custody until after they reach a financial settlement.

If divorcing couples in California are unable to reach an agreement on how to split their assets, a judge will determine how the couple should divide their community property. This type of order is not ideal, as it may involve, for instance, ordering the pair to sell their shared home in order to split the proceeds equally. A family law attorney can help try to negotiate a settlement that best protects the client's interests.

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