Painting, sculpting, writing, taking photographs, producing films, composing music, creating video games, etc. may provide you an emotional, physical, or even spiritual outlet. Many people even earn a living or additional income from their creative work.
If you are a “creative” going through a divorce, you may have a great deal of concern about how property division will apply to your unique situation. Is your intellectual property (IP) subject to division? If so, how is it valued and divided? What happens to your royalty payments? What happens with physical works you created, such as paintings or photographs?
Marital Property Is Marital Property
Under Virginia law, all marital property is subject to division in a divorce. Creative works are not exempt, nor is any income generated from them.
Any work of during the marriage is likely marital property. The issue becomes more complicated when a work was created prior to the marriage, making it separate property, but generates royalties or other income during the marriage. The need for careful asset identification, classification, and tracing is critical in these situations.
Create an Inventory
During your separation, before you can negotiate a settlement agreement or litigate your divorce case at trial, you will need to work with your attorney to create an inventory of your works. What are they? When did you create them? Where are they now? What’s their value? If you have created a multitude of works, it may be difficult to inventory each piece, but the lack of disclosure could present legal issues down the road – especially if your former spouse may accuse you of purposefully hiding assets. Creating an accurate inventory can play a key role in obtaining the best outcome for you.
You may feel that your work should have a high value due to the time and effort you spent creating them. However, when it comes to divorce and property division, you may want to bring in professional expert to assign value to your work or your spouse may want to do so. Using a professional appraiser will produce more accurate results and help you obtain a fair deal.
When complex assets such as creative works play a role in divorce proceedings, the property division process can be complicated. In order to understand your options when it comes to protecting the work you have poured your heart into, seek reliable legal information from an experienced legal team.