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Dividing future profits from work created during the marriage

Your soon-to-be-ex-spouse has been writing "the great American novel" for most of your marriage. Although you provided lots of encouragement, read more than a few drafts and suggested some plot points and character descriptions, you never thought it would amount to anything.

Now a publisher is actually interested in it. Your spouse doesn't want to sign a contract until the divorce is final because they don't want to split the proceeds with you. It may barely sell, or it could end up being made into an Oscar-winning film. Either way, it seems like you should share some of the profits.

In fact, there are some options for dividing something that was created during the marriage, even if it can't be valued yet. One option is to treat it as a marital asset that the two of you will divide along with your other property. You could ask for a portion of all works conceived or developed during the marriage. You could also ask that the profits from the book be treated as income that would be used to calculate support payments.

What if your spouse ends up writing a trilogy of books based on the same characters they conceived of during the marriage. You may be able to include those in the portion of future assets or income you are seeking. However, you'd likely be entitled to increasingly less as you get further past the divorce.

If you're divorcing a writer, musician, artist or anyone who created unique work -- maybe with your financial, creative and/or emotional support -- during your marriage, you likely believe that you're entitled to a share of the income, royalties and other economic benefits that arise from that work. Your attorney can help you seek a fair settlement.

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