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How do you divide intellectual property during a divorce?

| Sep 30, 2020 | Divorce |

For purposes of divorce, Texas is a community property state. This means everything you and your spouse acquired during your marriage belongs to both of you equally. If you or your spouse has intellectual property, such as patents or trademarks, it may be part of the marital estate. 

In the lead-up to your divorce, you may pursue a settlement agreement with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. If you can reach an acceptable one, a judge is likely to respect it. If not, the judge in your divorce case may divide your marital estate equally. Either way, you must be ready to deal with intellectual property during your divorce. 

Is the intellectual property part of the marital estate?

Even though you likely must divide marital property, you can probably keep everything you own separately. Intellectual property you created or acquired before your marriage is probably separate property that may not be subject to distribution during your divorce proceedings. 

There is a critical exception to this rule, however. 

If the intellectual property generated income during the marriage, the income is probably a marital asset. Likewise, if you created intellectual property during your marriage, your spouse may have some ownership interest in its future proceeds. 

Why does intellectual property fall through the cracks?

When preparing for divorce, many individuals try to catalog marital and separate assets. Because it is intangible, intellectual property may be easy to miss. It may also be easy to hide. 

Nevertheless, because the intellectual property you and your spouse own may be valuable, you must both identify it and fight for what you rightfully deserve.