When a divorce is on the horizon, many couples will immediately turn to their property, assets, and investments. They’ll take an inventory of everything they consider theirs and they somehow reach an agreement on how to divide it all up. Today, couples also have to figure out a way to divide digital assets in a divorce. This is an issue that previous generations didn’t have to address. They didn’t have their entire lives implanted into a digital world. It’s safe to say that this is a fairly new problem that’s become more obvious over the last decade or so. How do you divide digital assets in a divorce? In this article, we explain what kind of digital assets we’re referring to as well as how they can be divided in a divorce.
What is a Digital Asset?
Despite living most of our lives online, you might still be wondering, what exactly is a digital asset? A digital asset is any type of service or holding that only exists in the online realm. Here is a list of commonly held digital assets:
- Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin
- Frequent flyer miles
- Online gaming accounts
- Digital gaming libraries
- Digital libraries such as ebooks or kindles
- Digital audio files, such as audio books, mp3s, iTunes libraries
- Digital photos
- Digital movie libraries
- Digital documents
- Shared social media accounts
You may be thinking that dividing digital assets in a divorce is a minor issue. Divorcing couples should just forget their old accounts, create new ones, and split everything down the middle. Unfortunately, for many people who have woven their lives together in an iCloud, resolving this issue isn’t that simple. Some couples have even created virtual worlds together through online role-playing games such as Second Life or Fortnite. These couples will also have to figure out a way to divide their virtual assets as well as their digital ones. The point is, in today’s technological world, this problem isn’t as minor as most may think. Digital and virtual assets can add up.
Create a Digital Inventory
When a divorce is pending, you need to take an inventory of all of your digital assets in the same way you would your other possessions. Each person should make a list of everything that’s considered shared digital property. In addition to making a list, it’s also recommended to rank your digital assets in order of importance to you. By ranking your digital assets, you can start to formulate a plan on how you’d like to negotiate. Knowing what digital assets are most important to you can help you to focus your attention on certain items. If you know there are services or items that have no value to you personally, you can put those at the bottom of your list.
Don’t Forget Income-Generating Digital Assets
There are some digital assets that actually produce money for one or both people in a marriage. For instance, blogs or social media accounts that generate a sizable amount of money need to be placed on the dividing table as well. It’s important to remember to include this income when keeping financial records. Having these financial records handy will be helpful when the time comes to start negotiations.
Dividing Digital Assets in a Divorce
While some couples may consider the digital divide to be a huge headache, it needs to be dealt with during the divorce proceedings. Income-generated digital assets, cryptocurrencies, or other valuable holdings or services should be addressed during mediation. It’s never recommended for couples to simply transfer digital assets or accounts on their own. It’s important to take a careful look at what each item or service is and how much value it has. This can give you a better idea of the total value of all of your assets together. Having this total will make it easier to handle other financial aspects of the divorce, such as child support or alimony.
It’s important to note that you should never pull the digital rug out from under your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Changing passwords or blocking access to their accounts can result in bigger problems down the line. The best way to approach dividing digital assets in a divorce is to collect an inventory, know what items are most important to you, and have an idea of the value of each item or service. This will make negotiations a lot less stressful.
For More Information
If you’d like more information on how to handle your digital assets in a divorce, you should contact an experienced divorce lawyer. A divorce lawyer can shed light on what your valuable digital assets are and help you protect them. You might be surprised by how much your digital assets are worth. Contact a trusted divorce lawyer today to learn more about digital assets and how to move forward with your divorce.