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Entertainment Professionals and Divorce

If you are currently married to an author, musician, actor, or artist and are seeking divorce than there are serious obligations to consider in terms of marital assets. In addition to typical aspects of divorce; such as, alimony, child support, child custody/visitation, and equitable divisions of property a divorce concerning an entertainer divorcee may also be subjected to disputes over divisions of copyrights, trademarks, or royalties. In entertainment divorce the divisions of labeled properties generally become the most disputed factors within the legal process; whereas most other aspects follow the paths of any other general divorce. In the state of Georgia the parties of an entertainment divorce will be required to equitably divide legal rights to the opposing spouse. This type of division can take place multiple ways and generally requires legal review of documents by an attorney highly experienced in entertainment divorce law.

The first step in preparing for an entertainment divorce is to identify and obtain information concerning any copyrighted property that the parties may be required to divide during the divorce action. If you are an entertainer anticipating a divorce you may wish to secure any project materials or unfinished works by retaining a copyright or trade mark over such materials. A search within the U.S. Copyright Office will determine if a copyright is currently registered; however, a registration of materials is not necessarily required to obtain protection for certain materials. Legal discovery methods should be able to uncover any type of privileged property currently owned by an entertainer during a divorce proceeding. Under the state of Georgia law divorcees must list a full and accurate disclosure of all assets or properties-which would include even uncompleted works or future works based off a previous asset. It is also important for divorcees to determine between physical work and the copyright of the work.

Examples of different scenario’s concerning the type of property may determine how a division is established. The following is a list of examples that determine how copyrighted property may be divided:

• An entertainers spouse may be entitled to an equitable division of property rights following a divorce i.e. books, movies, television shows.
• Particular artwork, logos, characters may also be subjected to equitable division and any future development of said character may be subjected to equitable division—which may depreciate over time.
• A spouse of an entertainer may be entitled to the market value for any unsold paintings or if the entertainer is popular may be entitled to the value of reproduction or merchandising rights.
• In situations where the copyright is sold but rights are retained by the entertainer the spouse may be entitled to equitable rights retained; such as, stage, publication, series, and sequel rights.
• If the entertainer is a producer or actor than the spouse may be entitled to an equitable division of rights within contracts or royalties.

In order to determine which property may be equitably divided an entertainer or spouse would need to consult with an attorney with experience in entertainment divorce law. If an attorney is unexperienced or an individual does not obtain legal advisement than an entertainer may lose rights to their work or even worse may lose special proceeds regarding the entertainers work or future investment. In order to retain a fair share of your rights during an entertainment divorce it is important to confer with a professional that is knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with multifaceted law concerning copyrighted information, trademarks, merchandise, production, etc.

Secondly, a divorcee in an entertainment divorce will need to determine how to divide property rights between the entertainer and the spouse. There are multiple ways to divide the property assets in this respect and the different ways may lead to different product advantages in certain situations –primarily for the artist. The following is a list of ways it is possible for an entertainer to divide copyright or trademarked property assets:

• The spouse may buy out the others copyright interest.
• Equitably divide the ownership and control of the copyright assets.
• Divide legal ownership of legal title, rights to revenues- but allows the copyright to remain in control of the creator.

If the parties did opt to divide legal ownership of the legal title and rights to revenue but allowed for the copyright to remain in control of the creator than it is possible that the creator may attempt to remove the spouse from future contracts or deals by specifically righting them out of the contract via third parties.

Lastly, it is important to obtain all negotiations and settlement agreements in writing. It is possible for divorcees to enter into a mutual agreement on how these types of property assets will be divided. During a negotiation or mediation concerning copyright properties both parties should have an attorney present to ensure that all properties are included within the settlement agreements and that the property rights are close to equitably distributed or in alignment with the parties particular interests. During this process the attorneys should pay particular attention to copyright acts and legal provisions concerning termination of transfers, revisions, and renewals. Upon completion of the final divorce decree all settlements or decrees concerning copyrighted property will be enforceable under law and any deference from court order can result in a contempt of court charge.