When you get a divorce, all of the marital property needs to be divided up equitably. This includes any intellectual property owned by either spouse. If you or your company have invaluable IPs to protect, you should have our Bergen County, NJ property division attorneys on your side.
What is an Intellectual Property?
An intellectual property is usually not a physical piece of property that can be taken or divided up, like a car or a collection of art. Instead, intellectual properties are often more like ideas, profitable ones that can make a major difference in certain industrial and business sectors. Common examples of IPs include:
- Trade secrets
- Different methodologies
If it is something that you patented, you can probably consider it your intellectual property.
Do I Need a Pre-Nuptial Agreement to Protect My Intellectual Property?
If you enter into a marriage while owning intellectual property, you probably want to ensure that it remains a separate property and that it is not intermingled with your marital assets. One way to do this is through a pre-nuptial agreement. This can lay out which assets of yours are going to be yours if the marriage ends. This can be a tricky conversation to have, but drafting such an agreement might be the best way to protect any valuable IP that you or your company possesses.
How Can a Spouse Make a Claim to My Intellectual Property?
Your spouse can certainly try to claim an intellectual property as their own, especially if said IP was developed during your marriage. Even if you were the only one who put effort into creating something or innovating in your field, if you create an IP during your marriage it is technically considered marital property along with things like your income and any property you buy together as a couple.
If the IP pre-dates the marriage, your spouse might still try to claim a piece of it. They can say that your intellectual property grew in value during the marriage and that they contributed to that. In situations where one spouse stayed home to raise the kids and another worked on their career and business, an argument like that can carry real weight. The court could decide to award your spouse part of the IP’s value.
How Can You Value an IP and Divide It?
If you need to discover the value of an IP and divide it, there are some different ways of figuring out how much it is worth. The cost of developing an intellectual property could be looked at, or the potential income it can produce in the future would be considered. Then the court can find a fair way to split up any intellectual property that is considered a marital asset. .
Talk to Our Lawyers Today
So if you are looking for the best way to protect an IP or any other asset in a divorce, contact Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark. Our experienced family lawyers can advise you and help you fight for the best possible outcome. Schedule your consultation to learn more about how we can be of assistance.