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How are Intangible Assets Divided in Divorce?

person in a suit holding a divorce decree and pen over a table with other papers on it

Dividing up assets can involve some of the most difficult decisions you must make during a divorce. You must account for all tangible assets when deciding ownership after a divorce, such as determining who gets to keep a house, car, pet, furniture, or retirement account.

In addition to these tangible assets, intangible assets are also a factor in dividing ownership. Under Tennessee Law, all assets are divided fairly and equitably, which differs from the 50-50 rule other states may have. Let us explore exactly what intangible assets are and how they may be divided in your case.

What are Intangible Assets?

An intangible asset is a non-physical piece of property that can be divided in a divorce. These assets can include:

  • Patents
  • Trademarks
  • Copyrights
  • Professional certifications
  • Degrees
  • Art pieces
  • Other forms of intellectual property

If your divorce includes many high-value assets, or if you both own a business, intangible assets may be an important issue in your case.

Valuation and Division of Intangible Assets

Valuing intangible assets can be a complex and strenuous process, as it can be difficult to determine monetary value for these types of property. It may be easy to determine the value of an intangible asset if it was recently purchased, but it may be more difficult to determine if the asset has greatly appreciated over time. For art pieces and other rare assets, an expert may be called in for assistance with valuation.

Parties also may decide on selling these assets and splitting the returns. Dividing patents, trademarks, copyrights, and other intellectual property typically depends on if one spouse had ownership before marriage, or if the couple had partnered ownership. If you owned intellectual property before marriage, it is likely that this is seen as separate property exempt from division by marriage.

If your intangible asset is a business owned by your spouse, numerous factors may play into the division process. If one partner owned the business before the marriage, they may be able to claim full ownership, but if the other spouse made significant contributions to the business during the marriage, this will also be considered by the judge. This example may also be true for professional degrees and certifications. Cases regarding dividing intangible assets are typically resolved through mediation.

What are My Next Steps?

The division of assets is one of the most difficult and complex problems during a divorce, and intangible assets can further complicate these issues. In these situations, a Chattanooga lawyer may be able to guide you through the process. You may greatly benefit from legal counsel who could help make the best decisions for you and your family. Call Yates & Wheland today for a consultation with a legal advisor.

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