An article published by CNBC earlier this month highlights how an increasing number of people are hiding their assets in cryptocurrencies so that they don’t have to turn them over to their spouses when they divorce. Now, there are an estimated 20 million Americans who own approximately $2 trillion in cryptocurrency.
Some tips for determining if your spouse has cryptocurrency (and how to best stake your claim to your share) are emerging as more legal and financial analysts become familiar with this type of digital currency.
How might you determine if your ex owns cryptocurrency?
One aspect of cryptocurrency that makes it challenging to track down is that it’s primarily traded through anonymous means. Owners can trade in cash for this digital currency then use it to make purchases at retailers that accept it or on the “Dark Web.” This leaves little to no paper trail of a transaction. A computer-generated token is generally the only way of identifying the originator and recipient, making such a process relatively anonymous.
The anonymity makes it challenging for spouses to identify if their husbands or wives have secretive cryptocurrency stashes. There are some signs that might tip you off, however, including:
- Previous conversations you two might have had about investing in cryptocurrency
- Sudden changes in your spouse’s lifestyle, like purchasing an expensive new car or several larger purchases
- Your spouse is spending a lot of time researching cryptocurrencies
- Your spouse guards all access to their computer or electronic devices
It’s one thing to suspect your spouse may have cryptocurrency, but how do you verify it? Your attorney can petition the court for a subpoena of your spouse’s computer and other electronic devices. Your attorney may also have to bring in a forensic accountant or information technology (IT) professional into the mix to analyze those devices for evidence of cryptocurrency transactions.
You have a right to expect a fair split of the marital assets
All the property you and your spouse have, including cryptocurrency, is subject to property division during a divorce. You’ll want to ensure that you stake a claim to anything you may be entitled to as you look to go your separate ways.