Intellectual property rights in a divorce

| Mar 26, 2020 | Divorce |

If you are an inventor, a musician, an artist, a writer or some other type of creative person who owns intellectual property rights, you may not realize it, but those rights become assets as soon as you file for a divorce. As an asset, it is possible that you could lose your intellectual property in your divorce when the division of assets occurs.

If your spouse owns IP rights, you may struggle to uncover them, especially if you are not entirely certain about what IP he or she owns, according to The Business Journals. Hiding an IP is quite easy because spouses are not always aware that they even exist.

In any case, whether you own the IP or your spouse does, the property becomes a marital asset unless the ownership occurred before your marriage. As a marital asset, the court has every right to assign it as it sees fit during property division.


One of the most difficult issues with IP is valuing it. While the court may allow you to keep full ownership, it still must attach a value to the property. The valuation helps the court with completing the overall division of assets, and ensuring it is equitable.

Valuing IP is not easy because it is not a tangible asset. For an IP that you can lease or sell, it may help with valuation because you can use that lease or sale information as a starting point. The court will often have to determine the fair market value of the IP using the information it gathers about ownership and use.

Dividing assets

Once the court values your IP or your spouse’s IP, it can then start to divide all your assets, considering the value of the IP when looking at a fair division. If you have several IPs, you could end up losing a lot of other marital assets because you would have the IP instead.