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Dealing with Bitcoin during a divorce

Fri 31 Aug, 2018 / by / Divorce

When Illinois couples decide to divorce, assets often need to be identified and disentangled. With the rise of cryptocurrencies, a new layer of complication has been added to the already-complex process of understanding marital assets. These digital currencies, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, often offer a high level of anonymity. They have also witnessed a sharp upswing in value, and what began as a small investment may now be worth many times the initial outlay.

While cryptocurrencies are highly valuable, they can also be highly volatile. Their valuation can shift sharply on a daily basis, making it difficult to assess them in combination with other marital assets. In addition, the secrecy built into the structure of many of these currencies means that it can be easier for a spouse to hide assets. Assets held in Bitcoin can be hard to trace and confusing to value because the valuation can shift on a regular basis. Since the anonymity of cryptocurrency is part of its appeal, it can have the downside of serving as a haven for people who want to hide assets.

Some family lawyers have reported an increase in divorce cases involving concealed cryptocurrency assets. When assets are not disclosed, the other partner may seek to compel further information, which can be time-consuming and expensive in and of itself. For example, forensics experts can be brought in to search through email records for any trace of cryptocurrency transactions.

When spouses are going through a high-asset separation, establishing a proper valuation is critical. A family law attorney can work to protect key assets while achieving a fair settlement on issues such as property division and spousal support.