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Musicians: Don’t Be a “Loser” About Divorce Law

Photo Credit: Bang Showbiz

Every profession is impacted differently by divorce law. The stakes can be major.

Look at the situation of the rock star Beck and musicians in general.

Beck’s Divorce

Beck filed for divorce from Marissa Ribisi in February 2019 after almost 15 years of marriage. The parties had a pre-nuptial agreement but the financial terms of the divorce were still stunning.

Beck has been ordered to pay Marissa $18,169 per month in spousal support as well as 13 percent of his income for anything over his annual gross cash flow of $1.74 million and less than $3 million. This outcome is a function of the parties’ long-term marriage, the high marital standard of living and the continuing imbalance of income between the parties.

The parties have two children together. Beck will pay Marissa $14,531 per month, plus an additional nine percent of his income for everything over his annual income in child support. Child support generally is based on income, deductions and time spent with their children.

Beck will retain a house in California and will keep 10 other properties in California, Tennessee and Arkansas.

Beck also keeps a 2014 Mercedes-Benz, gold coins and most of the couple's art collection, including four original Banksys.

Marissa will take a 2014 Honda Odyssey, five Banksy pieces and an Andy Warhol original titled 'Sam, Sam'.

The property division is imbalanced and Beck will pay Marissa an equalization payment of $500,000 at a rate of $21,000 per month.

Beck is liable for a lot of money to Marissa – and he had a prenuptial agreement!

Musicians face a panoply of issues when it comes to California divorce law. Here is a description of two issues a musician should consider.

Intellectual Property & Revenue Streams

In California, community property principles generally say that married parties split all income earned during the marriage 50/50. Further, a spouse continues to have an interest in income related to those sources of revenue.

This impacts musicians. For example, if the musician spouse recorded and/or composed a song during the marriage, any income deriving from that song is community property, whether it is during the marriage or continuing after the marriage through radio play, being sold to movies and commercials for licensing, or generating album sales after the marriage.

Community property principles extend to other revenue streams a musician might have related to intellectual property like ticket sales, adaptations, recording royalties, merchandise, and so on.

Business Interests

If the musician spouse is in a working band or records, composes, and/or performs as a solo artist, the endeavor is a business, even if a traditional business entity like a corporation is not formed.

An analogy is extended to splintering bands. Bands that broke up like Guns ‘N’ Roses have what is called “goodwill” and members have fought over who owns those bands/businesses and get to use the name of the band. The bands have a business value. This is also the case in a divorce.

If the band/business’s value is attributable to any efforts made by the musician spouse during the marriage, the other spouse has a community property interest in the band they can pursue in the divorce.

Don’t be caught flat-footed in your divorce as a musician. The Law Offices of Jane Migachyov can protect your income, intellectual property, business interests and other assets in a divorce. Schedule a free initial consultation now.

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