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Lobbyists battle in divorce court over art collection

Florida readers may be interested in a story out of Washington, D.C., concerning one couple who has decided to end their marriage. The husband and wife, both high-profile lobbyists, are now fighting a legal battle over ownership and control of their art collection.

Tony and Heather Podesta initially separated in October 2012, but the couple has now decided to make the divorce official. He recently filed divorce papers in D.C. Superior Court, and she filed a counterclaim soon after. One of the more contentious issues in the proceedings is the control of the couple's collection of artwork. With his claimed history of supporting the arts and donating pieces to museums, he is claiming that Heather has attempted to block these donations. Heather is seeking to enjoin Tony from any further donations without the written consent of both spouses.

Also at issue in the divorce is the source of the couple's success. Tony is claiming that he had already found success before the two were married. He says that his reputation in the lobbying industry brought Heather from a $55,000 a year salary to making millions annually through his contacts and name. Heather says that the couple's increasing success was due to a collaboration between the two, and that the businesses that they each own should be seen as joint marital property.

Questions about how to fairly divide property obtained during the marriage are usually difficult, as each side fights for what they believe is an equitable asset division. An attorney may be able to help evaluate an inventory of property in order to negotiate a property settlement agreement for a client.

Source: Politico , "Heather and Tony Podesta divorce documents released", Tal Kopan and Lucy McCalmont , April 11, 2014

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