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The rise of cryptocurrency and its role in an Ohio divorce

On Behalf of | Feb 4, 2022 | Property Division

Are you considering filing for divorce? If so, your divorce settlement could be affected by your spouse’s cryptocurrency investments. While cryptocurrencies are expanding and becoming much more common, the anonymity of their acquisition (and other factors) make them a little bit like the wild, wild West.

Let’s assume that your spouse purchased cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Etherium unbeknownst to you during the marriage. Without that knowledge, however, you could easily walk away from the settlement table with less than what you are entitled to split when dividing the property.

How cryptocurrency investments deprive spouses of their shares

Cryptocurrencies exist only virtually in the realm of cyberspace. You can’t hold it in your hand or tuck it into a pocket. Cryptocurrency exists only in unidentifiable virtual wallets that can be unlocked only by digital keys. 

In some cases, you may have no idea that your spouse invested in crypto. Even if you did, good luck finding the size of their investment and the value of such a highly volatile and easily liquidated asset.  Some spouses even arrange to be paid in Bitcoin or another type of cryptocurrency. Bonuses, too, could come in crypto form. Since Ohio’s equitable distribution divorce laws are designed to assure a fair, if not entirely equal, division of property, you could get cheated. 

What can you do?

A deep dive by a forensic accountant who knows how to ferret out cryptocurrency transactions and their value is going to cost you a great deal. If you suspect or know that your soon-to-be ex-spouse just dipped a toe into the crypto pond, e.g., having investments worth around $10K or less, you may decide to just walk away from it. It could otherwise be worth considerably less than what you pay to uncover it.

Your attorney could also negotiate with opposing counsel and propose that your spouse keeps the crypto while you get a bigger share of retirement account proceeds or the country club membership. Whatever your decision about your property settlement, make sure that it is a well-informed one.