Dividing Digital Assets
Property division is often a divisive part of any divorce. But most people imagine that they will be fighting over the family’s home or retirement accounts. In reality, a dispute can break up about all sorts of assets, including digital ones.
Few people fully understand how many digital assets they own with their spouse. Still, when divorcing, a couple needs to divide them, and we encourage you to discuss your concerns with a Media property division attorney.
Types of Digital Assets Couples Acquire
Technically, Pennsylvania’s rules regarding property division apply to both digital and physical assets. Any asset that a spouse obtained before marriage is likely separate property, and you can leave the marriage with it. However, if you obtained the asset while married—even if you used only your wages to buy it—the asset is likely marital and must be divided along with other marital property.
Some of the more common digital assets include:
- Websites, including domain names
- Cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin or Monera
- Steaming subscription services, such as Netflix or iTunes
- Digital businesses, including eBay storefronts or Amazon accounts
- Airline miles or points on a joint credit card
Some digital assets, such as family photographs, can be easily copied, so there is no concern there when it comes to division. But you cannot easily multiply a subscription service, for example, and you can’t split a domain name.
Complications Involved with Digital Assets
One problem that arises involves valuing an asset. Dividing marital property does not require cutting every single asset you own in half. Instead, you put them all in a pot and value each one. You then divide the total value of the pot. This requires, however, valuing each asset accurately and fairly.
Some assets like cryptocurrencies can fluctuate dramatically with sudden gains followed closely by substantial losses. A business website or domain name, for example, might also be hard to value. If your company is fairly well known, then the value could be considerable.
Transferring ownership can also be difficult. If you downloaded songs or books electronically, your user agreement might limit your ability to transfer them. Sometimes it is just technologically difficult to transfer an asset to your spouse.
Choosing Assets Sensibly
We can help our clients negotiate a property settlement agreement with their spouse. This is often desirable, since you don’t want a judge to take a meat cleaver to your assets and divide them for you.
One thing we can help clients think through is what assets they are willing to give up in exchange for “must haves.” For example, a blog might be central to your ability to support yourself. If so, you might be willing to give up some investment accounts of equivalent value.
We also help clients think about risk. Cryptocurrency values could soar to the moon over the next decade—or they could crash. If you have little appetite for risk, then requesting other assets would make sense.
Our Delaware County Divorce Lawyer Can Help
Barbara Flum Stein & Associates has assisted clients in property division for decades. Contact our office to schedule a time to meet.