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Does your spouse have a right to your copyrights in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2023 | Divorce

Dividing assets is usually a major part of the divorce process. While some assets are easy to identify, there are others that might not necessarily come to mind at the outset, such as copyrights, but they can become an issue in a California divorce.

Who has a right to your copyright?

A copyright belongs to the artist who creates the work. However, when that work is created during the marriage and the couple is divorcing in a community property state, there are certain factors that must be considered. While the copyright, according to federal law, remains the property of the creator, any earnings generated from the work become part of community property that must be equally divided during the divorce, which indirectly imparts partial rights of the copyright to your spouse during the divorce process.

How does community property work?

California considers all assets acquired during marriage as marital or community property. During the divorce, community property is divided equally between the spouses, no matter their contribution to the marriage. Some of the assets you might include during the division of property include:

  • The family home and other real estate property
  • Savings and investments
  • Retirement accounts and pensions

Protecting your copyrights

If you are concerned about your spouse having access to your copyrights, you can protect these by establishing them as separate property in a prenup or postnup agreement. However, be careful not to commingle the earnings generated by the copyrighted works during the marriage as that can complicate the negotiations.

Being proactive about your assets is important, and as an artist, your copyrights might be some of your most important assets. Protecting them early might help you to avoid having them questioned during the divorce negotiations.