In a post-judgment divorce action, the Appellate Court of Connecticut found that royalties from book sales constitute a significant source of income, and cannot be subject to both property division and alimony determinations.
The plaintiff, husband, and the defendant, wife, were married in 1992. However, in September 2009, the court rendered judgment dissolving the marriage due to irretrievable breakdown. Pursuant to the divorce decree, the court distributed the assets and liabilities of the marital estate and issued a number of financial orders, many of which the husband contested on appeal. Most notably, the husband had written and published a book, and per court order was required to pay the wife 30% of the value of the unsold books as well as 30% of all income he receives in the future from the sale of the books. The husband contended that this order was improper.
Intellectual property interests are considered marital property subject to division in a divorce action, as long as the proceeds are neither indefinite nor speculative. When a marital asset is considered for both property division and alimony awards, double dipping generally does not occur unless the asset assigned to non-employee spouse was also counted in the court’s determination of the employee spouse’s resources when determining alimony. In other words, assets that do not produce significant income may be considered for both purposes, whereas assets that do produce such income cannot.
The Court’s Decision
In this case, the Appellate Court found that the husband’s inventory of books constituted a significant source of income, as they produced a significant stream of income in the form of royalties (exceeding $50,000 in approximately one month). The lower court properly granted 30% of the royalties to the wife as alimony. However, also awarding 30% of the value of the unsold books as property division constituted impermissible double dipping. Therefore, the Appellate Court remanded this part of the case for reconsideration.
Whether advancing or defending a post-judgment motion regarding awards of alimony and assignment of property, a divorced individual is best served by consulting with an experienced family law practitioner. Should you have questions regarding matrimonial matters, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.
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