Choosing to divorce your spouse is likely one of the toughest decisions you may ever make. Not only do you want to receive your fair share of marital assets, but you also want to work toward a financially secure future. Of course, if you have a patent, trademark or copyright, you may worry about what happens to your intellectual property after your divorce.

As you may suspect, tangible assets are comparatively easy to value during a divorce. For example, if you have a bank account, you can simply look at the statement to determine how much the account is worth. That may not be the case for intangible assets, such as intellectual property, though. While a valuation expert can likely help you through the process, you probably need to take four steps to determine how much your intellectual property is worth.

  1. Validation

Sometimes, trademarks, patents and copyrights expire if users fail to pay maintenance fees. Therefore, when trying to ascertain the value of intellectual property, you must first be sure that it continues to be valid.

  1. Ownership

After researching the validity of intellectual property, you must determine who owns it. There are a few different options. First, you or your spouse may own a patent, copyright or trademark outright. Alternatively, ownership may reside in a business organization that you or your spouse own. Or, you and your partner may be shareholders in a company that owns intellectual property.

  1. Usage

Once you identify ownership of intellectual property, you need to know about its usage. That is, another person, organization or business may have a license or other arrangement that allows for transactional usage of the copyright, trademark or patent. This, of course, affects the value of the intellectual property.

  1. Outside factors

Some outside factors may weigh on intellectual property’s value. For example, if you have a patent for a medical device, you may be waiting on imminent approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Alternatively, there may be a publishing deal in the works for a recently written manuscript. Regardless, you must think about outside influences that may either enhance or minimize the value of your intellectual property.

With some careful consideration of the above factors, you can begin to paint a realistic picture of the value of your intellectual property. Only when you know how much your patent, copyright or trademark is worth can you plan for receiving your fair share of it during your divorce.