When divorcing your spouse, one area of contention for many is determining how your assets and property will be divided. While some assets are simple to split, you may be shocked to learn that property you had not considered vulnerable can be included in distribution talks. One asset you must consider when thinking about how assets are handled is your intellectual property. If you have these assets, the following blog explores what you must understand about how they will be handled during divorce. You’ll also learn how a Somerset County property distribution attorney can assist you during these challenging times.
How Is Intellectual Property Handled During a Divorce?
It’s essential to understand how property in New Jersey is divided during divorce. Generally, there are two categories of property – marital and separate. Marital property includes any assets obtained during the marriage or comingled with marital assets. Separate property are assets owned by either spouse prior to the marriage or inherited property. New Jersey follows the equitable distribution doctrine, which means marital property is subject to division based on how much each spouse contributed to the divorce. This includes financial and domestic contributions.
Intellectual property is often, but not always, awarded to the owner, even if it was created after the marriage. This ensures they keep the rights to their property. However, a spouse is likely entitled to economic interest from the work. It’s important to understand that this only occurs if the intellectual property was acquired during the marriage. For example, if one spouse writes a book during their marriage they will continue to own the copyright to that work. However, the courts will award their spouse a portion of the royalties generated from the book. In some instances, the courts will determine that intellectual property is community property and subject to distribution.
Generally, the courts will examine the value of the property and its ability to generate future profits. Intellectual property includes copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets.
What Can I Do to Protect My Work?
If you are getting married and want to protect your copyright or trademark in the event you and your fiance get divorced, creating a prenuptial agreement can help ensure you obtain full ownership of the work, including any royalties or derivative works that may stem from the original creation.
However, if you’re currently divorcing your partner and are worried about your work, contacting an experienced property distribution attorney as soon as possible is crucial to protecting yourself and your work.
At the Siragusa Law Firm, we understand how troubling it can be to discover that your intellectual property is vulnerable during a divorce. As such, we will do everything possible to help you through these challenging times. Contact us today to learn how our dedicated team can fight for you.