Protecting Intellectual Property During A Florida Divorce
Some divorces blow up over something as simple as a goldfish, but the chances of a clean break are slim when you have valuable intellectual property at stake. For high-net-worth individuals, protecting your creative assets is a financial imperative.
If you’re facing the prospect of divorce and are concerned about safeguarding your intellectual property – be it patents, copyrights, or trademarks – you’re not alone. A collaborative approach can make a significant difference in how these complex assets are divided as you separate.
At The Bardine Law Firm, our team is dedicated to helping our clients leave marriages intact through robust negotiations and argumentation. Call Johnny Bardine at (727) 605-7078 or contact us through our website to get help protecting what matters most during this challenging time.
Understanding Intellectual Property in a Florida Divorce
Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind, thing such as inventions, company designs, artistic works, symbols, and names and images used during the course of commerce, categorized into patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. For high-net-worth individuals, these assets can often represent a significant portion of their financial portfolio.
Under Florida law, the division of assets during a Florida divorce follows the principle of “equitable distribution.” All marital assets, including intellectual property, will be divided in a manner that the court deems fair. Intellectual property acquired during the marriage is generally considered a marital asset, making it subject to division between both parties. However, the division isn’t straightforward. For instance, while the work itself may not be divided, the rights associated with it, such as royalties, could be.
Understandably, knowing whether or not something is marital property is extremely important for long-term financial planning. Here’s a quick list to help you categorize your assets:
- Marital Assets: Intellectual property developed during the marriage, joint bank accounts, and real estate acquired during the marriage.
- Non-Marital Assets: Intellectual property developed before the marriage, personal gifts, and inheritance.
If your intellectual property is considered a non-marital asset but has increased in value during the marriage, that increase in value may be subject to division. As you can see, there are so many ways that inexperience with Florida divorce law could leave you in a bad position – if you are considering divorce, it’s essential to consult with an experienced attorney to navigate these issues.
Strategies to Protect Intellectual Property During a Florida Divorce
Protecting your intellectual property begins with understanding exactly what it’s worth, so your first step should be obtaining an accurate appraisal. An appraiser can assign a monetary value to your intellectual property based on its potential for future earnings, helping you understand how the equitable distribution will play out. Appraisals can also serve as a strong negotiating tool during divorce proceedings.
Another strategy involves the division of future royalties. While this avoids a large immediate payout, it does come with its own set of challenges. On the upside, you won’t have to part with a lump sum, preserving your current financial status. However, the downside is that your ex-spouse will receive a fixed percentage of future profits, regardless of any additional work you may invest in the intellectual property post-divorce.
Pre-divorce planning is another avenue to explore. Here are some protective measures you can consider:
- Transfer assets to a trust to safeguard your intellectual property in a legal structure.
- Set up an LLC to provide an additional layer of protection and separate the asset from marital property.
- Use financial agreements to create barriers that protect your assets from being considered marital property.
As in most cases, pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements can also offer a robust line of defense. These legally binding documents can specify how intellectual property will be treated in the event of a divorce, providing an added layer of security.
Another proactive measure is opening individual accounts separate from any joint accounts you may hold with your spouse. This action safeguards your personal assets and provides a clear financial boundary, making it easier to classify what belongs to whom. It’s a simple yet effective way to protect your financial interests during a divorce.
Contact a Florida Divorce Attorney Today
Even if you take precautions. the most crucial aspect of protecting your intellectual property and other complex assets is hiring an experienced attorney to guide you through the divorce. An attorney can provide tailored advice, from the valuation of your assets to strategic planning and negotiations. An attorney is always looking out for your interests and working hard to help you leave your marriage on the best possible terms. To get started today, contact The Bardine Law Firm at (727) 605-7078 or through our website.