Divorcing couples frequently experience conflict over how to divide their marital estate. They may disagree over what should be considered marital versus personal property, as well as what constitutes an “equitable” division as required under Illinois law.
Complex assets can further complicate this already challenging area. One type of asset – intellectual property – can be difficult to value and even more difficult to divide. If you are getting a divorce in Illinois and either you or your spouse owns intellectual property, such as original books, music, artwork, copyrights, etc., contact an experienced Illinois asset division attorney who can help.
Is Intellectual Property Marital Property?
While the spouse who created the intellectual property may very much feel like the rightful owner of their own creative output, under the law, anything of monetary value earned or generated by either spouse during the marriage is generally seen as a marital asset. In that sense, intellectual property is marital property – as long as it was created during the marriage.
Intellectual property is different from other property in the sense that it can continue to generate income for many years. Take an author of a book, for example. If a book was written during a marriage, and most of its sales occurred during the marriage, future sales could continue to generate revenue in the future. In contrast to a house or a bank account, dividing the value of the book, therefore, proves more difficult.
Most courts resolve this issue by awarding the intellectual property rights to the spouse who created the intellectual property. This means that that spouse will have exclusive management and control over the intellectual property moving forward. However, intellectual property rights are not the same as the intellectual property’s economic value. The spouse who does not receive intellectual property rights can still retain an interest in the economic value, such as royalties, in the future.
It can be very difficult to assess the true monetary value of intellectual property. Some types of intellectual property remain in stasis – a piece of art, for example, is rarely ever more than that. But a book could become a film, which could result in a series of action toys – all of which would redound economic value back to the intellectual property holder (and their spouse). Expert assistance is often needed and each spouse may wish to hire their own expert to estimate the value of an intellectual asset.
Meet with a Wheaton, IL Complex Asset Division Divorce Lawyer
Intellectual property can be a particularly tough asset to tackle in a divorce. If you are getting divorced in Illinois and anticipate having a complex asset division process, schedule a comprehensive consultation with a DuPage County divorce attorney who has experience managing complex divorces. Call The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C. today at 630-462-9500.