If you don’t personally invest in cryptocurrency, then it’s likely that at this point you have friends, family members, or colleagues who do. Cryptocurrencies have risen from a very niche market to becoming nearly fully mainstream, and they’ve done so in a very short amount of time. Now that they’re so ubiquitous, there’s a new question to wrangle with, and that’s the matter of how cryptocurrencies are handled in the divorce process.
Determining and distributing financial assets, as well as determining alimony payments, are central issues to be resolved during the majority of divorce proceedings. There are many tools at an attorney’s disposal for the disclosure of financial assets, however when you combine Bitcoin and divorce, you’re left with something entirely new.
Handling Bitcoin and divorce is different from handling other financial assets for several huge reasons. One is the sheer volatility of their value. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been known to undergo absolutely wild swings, both up and down, in value. Therefore, value either needs to continue to be tracked and updated on the fly, or set at a particular time, when it could end up being worth something much different down the line. In either instance, it’s a less than ideal circumstance for determining and distributing assets or setting alimony.
Another key issue to understand between cryptocurrency and divorce is that these markets and their transactions were designed to be both anonymous and secure. Looking up the holdings, accounts, or transactions of an individual is not the same as looking into a bank account, retirement account, or stock portfolio. The traceability of an individual’s crypto accounts will be difficult at best, and whether or not the courts put any subpoena power behind that remains unclear at this time.
Clearly this is only the beginning of the issue of Bitcoin and divorce, because all cryptocurrencies are still on the rise. As more people begin or continue to use them, and they become more common and accepted, how they’re handled as financial assets during divorce proceedings will continue to be in the spotlight. It’s the fact that they rose so quickly to begin with that has left many people off guard today with how to treat them in such matters. Keep in mind, Bitcoin was launched less than a decade ago.
As always, be sure to consult with an experienced professional in your local area. While there’s still much uncertainty about how Bitcoin and divorce will be treated, and what types of rulings may await us in the future, an experienced divorce attorney will be able to guide you through the process, and offer insight into the areas of financial discovery and all aspects of a pending case.