Kennedy Law Associates

What happens to cryptocurrency assets in a divorce

Cryptocurrency may be an asset in the divorce of some couples in North Carolina. While the currency is only about 10 years old, it has become more mainstream, and in the years ahead, it may increasingly become a tool for people to hide assets. The Global Blockchain Business Council found that only 5 percent of Americans surveyed said they owned cryptocurrency, but more than 20 percent said they were considering purchasing some.

One issue is that cryptocurrency is still so new and so rare that regulators, financial and legal experts and laws have not yet caught up with it. One attorney says court forms still do not include places to list cryptocurrency, although clients do include it in their lists of assets. A forensic accountant who specializes in cryptocurrency says he was able to locate a husband's hidden assets, more than $100,000 in cryptocurrency, by looking at his bank statements and following the transactions to a trading platform. However, an expert in cybersecurity and cryptocurrency might pay cash for the asset and hide it in a way that would make it almost impossible to find.

Some experts predict cryptocurrency will play a growing role in high-asset divorces in the years ahead. In the meantime, people whose divorces may involve cryptocurrency might want to work with a financial professional who has some experience with it.

Even when cryptocurrency is not involved, a high-asset divorce can involve complications regarding the division of property. A spouse might try to hide assets in another way, such as through offshore accounts. Some types of property, such as art collections or businesses, could present challenges in terms of valuation and division. Pensions and 401(k)s require complex documents called a qualified domestic relations order if there must be distributions from them as part of a divorce settlement.

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