Society has moved significant portions of their life online – from social media to job searches and even home buying. Digital currency has also seen a rise in recent years and appears to be here to stay.
If you went through a divorce fifteen years ago, chances are you didn’t have to worry about dividing your digital assets. However, for those experiencing divorce in today’s world, it is a much different situation, one that requires finesse and skill. Now more than ever, professional family law or divorce attorneys are necessary when facing divorce.
Digital Assets Defined: According to Securities.io, the definition of a digital asset is “anything that exists in binary data which is self-contained, uniquely identifiable, and has a value or ability to use.” When the term emerged in the 1990s, digital assets included videos, images, audio, and documents. Since then, the term has expanded to include other technologies we could not even have imagined 20 years ago.
The most widely recognized digital assets are known as “crypto” currencies. The most mainstream of these currencies are Bitcoin, Ripple, Dogecoin, ethereum, and XRP. Every day more people join the movement to accumulate and trade their funds online. Other digital assets include digital points plans such as online cash-back reward systems and air miles accounts. These accounts hold real value and must be accounted for in a divorce.
Many people aren’t aware of another category of digital assets, which is becoming an issue in divorce settlement proceedings. Online entertainment accounts such as Netflix include a library of downloaded movies, while Itunes includes extensive music collections and Kindle has collected downloaded digital books. If both spouses had access to and participated in amassing the collections, they could become a point of contention in the divorce.
Finally, many individuals now establish and operate their own businesses online. These may include a monetized YouTube channel, a profitable podcast, or a popular Etsy store.
How Are Digital Assets Divided?
Although digital assets are intangible, they are categorized as martial property in a divorce proceeding. This means they will be subject to the same valuation and division process that tangible assets undergo. Every state has its own laws regarding the division of marital property, so it is vital to consult with a Florida divorce attorney if you own any of these digital assets. Typically, the marital division does not adhere to a simple 50/50 split, as many other factors come into play. These factors may include;
* how much each party has contributed to the accumulation of the asset
* the financial situation of each party
* the support agreements under discussion
For the most part, dividing digital assets is more straightforward than dividing tangible property since there is typically less emotional attachment to online property. You can imagine that deciding who gets possession of the family dog may cause more drama than who gets the movie collection. Many online assets can be copied or shared even after divorce. However, digital currency and airline miles still need to be split and allocated. Each asset is divided justly and fairly through the standard negotiation and mediation processes – or during a court trial.
What Does This Mean to You?
This classification of assets is still emerging, and professional guidance is recommended. If you are filing for divorce, you must inform your divorce attorney about any digital assets you may own. If you are unsure what may qualify as a digital asset, be sure to ask for clarification.