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Division of Intangible Assets in Divorce

Posted by Joshua Wilson | Jan 25, 2019 | 0 Comments

During a divorce, you will need to make difficult decisions regarding the division of property, such as who will take ownership of family pets and whether or not one spouse will stay in the marital home. In addition to dividing real estate and personal property, you may also need to consider intangible assets. Just like physical property, intangible assets are subject to equitable distribution.

What are intangible assets?

An intangible asset is one that is not physical in nature. Intangible assets include intellectual property such as trademarks and copyrights, business goodwill, patents, literary works and art, royalties from oil and gas operations, and professional certifications and degrees. If you are going through a high-asset divorce or you own a business with your spouse, the division of intangible assets may become an issue in your case.

Valuation of Intangible Assets

Valuation can be a complex process. Experts such as business valuation experts may be consulted. In cases that involve property with a value that is difficult to determine such as an art collection, an expert may be able to help determine value, or the parties may agree to sell the property and split the proceeds. If the property was recently purchased, the purchase price may be used to determine value, but this may not be useful for intangible assets that have greatly appreciated in value.

Division of business assets

Some high-asset divorce cases involve a business that was owned prior to the marriage. In these cases, the increase in goodwill and value of the business that occurred during the marriage may be considered marital property subject to division. Many cases are resolved through mediation or through settlement negotiation discussions. It may be possible for a spouse who owned a business before the marriage to keep most or all of the business assets depending on whether or not it is deemed to be marital property subject to division.

It is common for only one spouse to have an interest in a business like a professional practice. If the other spouse made substantial contributions to assisting their partner in obtaining a professional degree, this may be a factor a judge will consider when awarding alimony. For example, if a spouse worked full time to help put their partner through medical school, this contribution to the marriage may be persuasive to a judge in a determination to order alimony.

How are cryptocurrencies divided in a divorce?

Cryptocurrencies are a digital currency that can be transferred without involvement from a third party like a bank. Cryptocurrency may sometimes be used to purchase real goods and services. Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are subject to division just like other types of property in a divorce. Ownership of cryptocurrencies must be disclosed just like other assets.

Divorce cases that involve bitcoin pose difficulties in valuation because the value of cryptocurrencies can fluctuate wildly from day to day. The purchase price may be used to determine value, or the value may be determined using the conversion rate to U.S. dollars. This type of asset poses an issue for courts because ownership of cryptocurrencies has only recently become common.

There have been cases where individuals have tried to hide their financial assets or income during a pending divorce by converting them into cryptocurrency because cryptocurrencies can be traded anonymously unlike money that is held in a bank account. If discovered, hiding assets in this manner can subject an individual to penalties from a court.

Consult a Cass County, Missouri Family Law Attorney

If you are facing a high-asset divorce that may involve intangible assets, it is important to have an attorney with the experience and diligence necessary to make sure you are treated fairly. Joshua Willson handles all types of family law cases, including high-asset divorce litigation. Contact the Joshua Wilson Law Firm online or by calling (816) 331-9968 to schedule a consultation.

About the Author

Joshua Wilson

Divorce is complex and highly emotional. Everything is going to change, including your most important personal relationships, your finances, your daily routine, and -- of course -- your home life. This can be a stressful time, and the parties involved often are not thinking clearly. You need some...

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