Is your novel marital property?

On Behalf of | Jun 5, 2023 | Family Law |

Marriage is a joint affair and you might point to a number of activities or accomplishments you and your spouse did together. However, you may have pursued your own goals as well, like writing a novel.

Writing a novel involves months if not years of planning, writing, editing and dedication. Once you move on to publishing, it involves frequent communication and logistics. It is an enormous affair to take care of on your own. Did you know that your spouse could claim 50% of your novel’s profits as marital property in a divorce?

Intellectual property in a marriage

Many people do not realize this, but anything you do or produce during your marriage frequently falls under the umbrella of joint property. Unless you created a prenuptial that identifies a particular IP or project as separate property, your novel is something you and your spouse need to divide during divorce.

The intangible value of your novel

Your book has value. A shop might sell a copy for $20, but that is not what your IP is worth. Your IP’s value comes from your exclusive rights to control it. This includes movie rights, audiobook deals and distribution permissions in other countries.  When you enter into a divorce, you and your spouse need to decide how to separate those rights.

That introduces several complicated questions. What are the full rights worth? Is there a chance of royalties to split in the future? When answering these questions, it is important to lean on your resources so that you and your spouse may come to a fair agreement in property division over IP.