Experts concerned about growing use of Bitcoin in divorce cases

You may consider yourself to be a relatively savvy tech user, but there’s still a very good chance that you aren’t entirely familiar with all the products, programs, apps and other services available to consumers today.

For instance, you may have heard the term Bitcoin bandied about in news stories or run across it during your daily web surfing, but remained relatively uncertain as to what it is.

While a complete discussion of the ins and outs of Bitcoin is clearly beyond the scope of a single blog post, it is essentially a form of digital currency that enables people to perform transactions without the need for any banks or other intermediaries.

One of the primary advantages of Bitcoin, say proponents, is that it gives currency holders a considerable degree of anonymity, such that unlike the standard bank account, transactions are relatively hard to trace.

Opponents of Bitcoin, however, have argued that this lack of financial transparency facilitates illegal online purchases (guns, drugs, etc.).

Interestingly, legal experts in England are now indicating that Bitcoin is playing a larger role in divorce proceedings, as former spouses are using it as a means to conceal assets.

In general, property division in England is viewed as being relatively generous, meaning that judges treat contributions made by breadwinners and homemakers to the martial home as equal such that assets are split evenly. (Not unlike the community property system here in Texas).

In an attempt to avoid parting with assets, however, experts say that many spouses are converting assets to Bitcoin in order to keep them hidden from divorce proceedings. Still others they say are going so far as to transfer the converted Bitcoins between various online wallets (often held by friends in foreign nations) so as to make them virtually impossible to track down.

In light of this development, legal experts in England have indicated that it’s highly likely that more and more attorneys there will start including Bitcoin and other digital currency in financial disclosure orders.

“Husbands are becoming more and more creative in terms of what they do to reduce their wealth and the courts are struggling to catch up. It’s just like when the Internet started and it was difficult for courts to catch up,” said one international family law expert.

While this issue has yet to emerge in our nation’s court system, it may only be a matter of time.

Stay tuned for updates…

If you would like to learn more about divorce or divorce-related issues like complex property division, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can answer your questions and protect your best interests moving forward.

Source: CNBC, “Bitcoin could be used to hide assets in divorces, warn lawyers,” Jane Croft, June 4, 2014