The Koblin Family Law Center

In high-asset divorces, what risk does Bitcoin pose?

The advent of virtual currency in this digital age is something that divorcing couples now need to start being more concerned about. This may be particularly true in cases where a lot of assets have been accumulated over the course of a marriage.

In order for equitable division of marital assets and debts to be done, both sides need to know what those assets and debts may be. And as legal observers around the world are coming to understand, the availability of exchange vehicles such as Bitcoin may make it easier for unscrupulous spouses to hide wealth in the virtual reality of the Internet.

Readers of this blog will likely appreciate that courts have started to include social media activity, such as postings on Facebook and Twitter, when issuing orders about disclosures in divorces. The courts were slow to wade into such Internet-based environments, but they doi it commonly now. And courts in the state have started to extend orders related to asset discovery to include digital currencies in some cases.

Such orders may not be happening in divorces yet, but the feeling among many is that it is only a matter of time. The reasons why are clear. Bitcoin exchanges make it possible to shift money around without the record keeping of traditional bank accounts. It's also easy to conduct such transactions with near complete anonymity. The venue also makes it possible for money to be moved into the hands of someone who might be outside a court's jurisdiction.

What seems most clear is that people are moving much faster than the courts when it comes to the use of the Internet. That would suggest that the help of an experienced attorney is going to be needed if individuals are to keep up and ensure their rights are protected.

Source: CNBC, "Bitcoin could be used to hide assets in divorces, warn lawyers," Jane Croft, June 3, 2014

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The Koblin Family Law Center
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