Intellectual property rights can be an incredibly challenging aspect of a high-asset divorce. These assets often make up a significant part of an individual’s net worth and passive income, so they are highly sought after during a divorce. If you created or purchased intellectual property during or prior to your marriage, you’re likely wondering what its status is now. Do you get to keep your IP? Is it subject to division?
We’re here to answer these and other questions. Set up a time to talk to our team of Birmingham divorce attorneys by calling Kirk Drennan Law at 205-953-1424.
Your Rights to Your Intellectual Property
Ownership and protection of intellectual property is often a complex part of divorce. A lot depends on when the property was created, who contributed to it, and whether or not you are bound to contracts and agreements regarding the IP.
For example, if you developed the intellectual property independently prior to the marriage and never commingled it with other assets, it may be considered separate property, which would protect it from division. But if your spouse contributed to the creation or development of the property, they would likely be entitled to some share of it during the divorce.
Another issue to consider is the valuation of intellectual property. While securing a fair and accurate valuation of real estate, antiques, or vehicles is pretty straightforward, the same isn’t true for IP. Since it’s an intangible asset, fair assessments may differ quite a bit. You’ll need to work with professionals in your industry to evaluate its value based on previous earnings and potential future earnings.
Protecting Your IP
The best time to protect your intellectual property is before you even get married. By specifically listing it as a separate asset in a prenuptial agreement, you can ensure that it stays with you in the event of a divorce. Should you and your spouse agree on a postnuptial agreement, you can also protect your IP this way. This minimizes potential conflict and can save both parties time and money if a divorce occurs.
Proper documentation can also help you secure your intellectual property in a divorce. Remember, a wide range of factors determine whether or not these assets are subject to division. If you have proof that you developed the intellectual property independently, did all of the work to build and maintain it, and secured the necessary licenses and legal documents on your own, that could go a long way in ensuring that it is not considered marital property.
You’ll also want to bring in intellectual property experts as soon as possible during a high net-worth divorce involving these assets. Dividing these assets is completely different from dividing more tangible items, and trying to handle it on your own could be disastrous. Valuation experts can look at your IP from a neutral standpoint, provide an objective assessment, and give you leverage to use during the division of assets.
Why You Need an Attorney
Your choice of an attorney is a critical issue in any divorce, but it is especially important when you have intellectual property on the line. If your divorce attorney has never worked with cases involving high-asset couples and intellectual property, they could be completely out of their element with your divorce. This may lead to costly mistakes that put you at a disadvantage during negotiations.
A strong divorce lawyer with experience in these types of cases will know how best to protect your intellectual property, how to secure a fair valuation, and when it’s time to bring in outside legal counsel that specializes in intellectual property law. They may also work with other outside experts, including intellectual property appraisers and financial professionals, to ensure that you are protected from every angle. There is a lot at stake when you own intellectual property—you want an attorney who is up for the challenge.
Get the Assistance You Deserve with Kirk Drennan Law
At Kirk Drennan Law, we fully understand the stress and pressure that come with a high-asset divorce. We’re here to support and represent you as you navigate this difficult time. Schedule your free consultation now by calling us at 205-953-1424 or filling out our online contact form.