New investment vehicle presents new challenges in divorce

On Behalf of | Mar 19, 2019 | Divorce

Divorce attorneys in Oklahoma are used to cases involving different types of assets in the martial estate, from real estate and small businesses to retirement accounts and mutual funds. But a new type of asset presents unique problems in dividing martial assets: Cryptocurrency has a unique set of challenges.

Cryptocurrency first became available 10 years ago and has grown exponentially since that time. It is a type of digital currency that is exchanged on a decentralized, peer-to-peer network. Assets are created, stored and exchanged electronically through the network.

The first problem with the asset is that it is subject to wide value fluctuations over a short period of time. For example, it is conceivable that cryptocurrency assets worth $50,000 at the time a divorce is filed can be near worthless by the time the property settlement agreement is signed. Likewise, the asset could double in that time frame. Setting a valuation date for marital assets can be crucial when cryptocurrency is involved.

The next problem is traceability. Written statements are not normally kept, only electronic records. Records kept online are easier to trace than those kept offline. Domestic companies are subject to subpoena power of a court, but records of other countries may be more difficult to obtain. Depending on the honesty of the spouse holding cryptocurrency, it may also be difficult to know where to begin looking as new exchanges are created all the time. On the good side, cryptocurrency assets are now taxable, and IRS reporting requirements may apply.

For those suspecting the other spouse is investing in cryptocurrency, speaking with his or her divorce attorney may be a good start. If the assets are substantial, hiring a forensic expert experienced in this new form of investment might be utilized. If the other spouse has failed to disclose this asset during the divorce, penalties may be imposed on the party who secreted the asset.