Dividing digital assets in divorce

On Behalf of | Feb 24, 2022 | Divorce |

In a divorce, the spouses must divide their property according to state law. In California, this means the parties disclose all their property — both assets and debts — and then divide them into community and separate property. Generally, community property consists of property acquired during the marriage; separate property consists of property the parties owned before the marriage.

In broad strokes, this process may look fairly straightforward, but anyone who has been through a divorce will tell you that property division can be highly complicated. Complex assets such as stock options and retirement accounts can be very difficult to divide in a divorce.

In recent years, a new type of asset has led to more complicated property division. As cryptocurrency and other digital assets have grown in popularity — and sometimes in value — they have presented new challenges for divorce law.

Disclosure and hidden assets

As we said above, the first step in the property division process is disclosure. The spouses are legally obligated to list all their assets and liabilities so that they can determine what is separate and what is community property.

Unfortunately, many people to try to conceal some of their assets in an effort to avoid having to divide the assets with an ex. Traditionally, a person might try to do this by stashing money in an account without the other spouse’s knowledge. Sometimes it takes detective work to track down these secret accounts in order to ensure the property division will be fair to the other party.

Some divorce lawyers say they have seen a rise in the number of cases where spouses try to hide their assets using cryptocurrency. Some ask clients if their spouses have mentioned cryptocurrency in the past, or if they have shown any signs of unexplained wealth. Once they have a suspicion that the other spouse is hiding assets, they can begin the work of trying to track them down. Of course, the “crypto” nature of these assets can make this process very challenging.

Learn more

Those who suspect their ex of concealing assets, either through digital assets or other means, can speak to an experienced family law attorney about their rights and their options.