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Motown singer-songwriter's ex-wife wants share of hits

Before they can formally dissolve their marriage, all Texas couples seeking a divorce must go through the process of property division. They must list all their assets, divide personal property from property obtained during the marriage and then divide the community, or marital property according to state law. It's rarely an easy process, but high asset divorce tends to be more difficult than divorce for couples with middle incomes simply because high net worth couples tend to have more complex assets that are harder to value and harder to divide.

One unusual case helps show how the importance of asset valuation. The ex-wife of singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson recently moved to reopen the dispute over property division in their 28-year-old divorce.

The ex-wife claims she should get 50 percent of the value of many of Robinson's great Motown hits, which are set to return to his control due to a provision of copyright law. Under the Copyright Act of 1976, certain music copyrights revert to the creator's control after a number of years. Robinson has recently moved to reclaim his rights under this provision of the law, which has the potential to raise his income substantially from such classics as "You've Really Got a Hold on Me," "My Girl" and "The Tears of a Clown." The ex-wife claims that during their divorce, Robinson should have listed this potential among his assets.

Copyrights aren't usually at issue in divorce cases, but some complex assets that often do create difficulties during property division are stock options and pensions. These assets may not be worth much at the time of the divorce, but they have the potential to be worth a great deal later on. To make the property division fair, the parties must reach an agreement on how to value these assets and how that value should be divided.

Texans going through a divorce are sometimes focused on the past, wondering where things went wrong in their marriage or nursing old grudges. A Texas attorney with experience in high asset divorce can help them to keep their minds on the future so that they can get a fair settlement that will prepare them for the next, happier stage of their lives.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, "Smokey Robinson's Ex-Wife Demands Share of Hit Songs," Eriq Gardner, May 5, 2014

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