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Is your spouse hiding IP assets? Find out before you divorce

| Sep 26, 2016 | Divorce

If you are facing divorce, it is likely that you already have at least a surface-level understanding of property division. You may already know that you and your ex will have to figure out what to do with your house, determine how to split up your vehicles, and fairly divide bank and other accounts.

These are some of the most common types of property that must be divided in divorce, but do you know what else to look for?

Intellectual property (IP) is one type of asset that couples often overlook in divorces in Dallas. Intellectual property can be quite valuable over time, but it can also be easier for spouses to hide than other types of property. If you don’t consider the possibility that your spouse has some sort of IP ownership, you could risk losing out on a fair settlement.

What is intellectual property?

Although your attorney can help you better understand exactly what you’re looking for, it’s good to have an idea of whether your spouse might own intellectual property. At its core, intellectual property is a legally protected idea. Examples of intellectual property include books, works of art, designs and inventions that are protected by a patent, trademark or copyright.

How do you know if your spouse has IP?

If you are worried that your spouse will lie to you if you ask them about intellectual property, start by considering their job. Does he work for a tech start-up? Has he talked about receiving patents on any of his inventions or coinventions? Does your spouse own a business?

Remember, people who create things, whether in the form of words on a page, a computer program or something more tangible, are more likely to have some sort of intellectual property.

Finding the proof

Once you’ve determined that your spouse might have intellectual property, the next step is to find proof. Unfortunately, tracking down evidence of IP ownership is not always easy.

Intellectual property assets are often not made public promptly after filing. Sometimes, they can take up to 18 months to become part of public record – as in the case of some patents.

Just because IP assets can be tricky to track down does not mean they are impossible to find. With the help of your attorney and possibly an IP expert or financial adviser, you can search public documents and use other methods to determine if your spouse is profiting or could profit from intellectual property.

Getting your fair share

After you discover IP assets, you will have to conduct a valuation to determine their worth at the time of your separation. This information can help you make informed decisions about how to approach the property division aspect of your divorce.

No one wants to find out that their divorce settlement was unfair after it is finalized. Protect yourself from that situation by talking to your lawyer about uncovering intellectual property that your spouse may be hiding.

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