Tag Archive for: divorce and crypto

The Rise of the Crypto Divorce

Talk to anyone who’s gone through divorce and they’d likely say the experience was no walk in the park. If you’re facing a divorce in 2022, there’s a new asset that needs to be accounted for – Cryptocurrencies. Here’s what you need to know.

In the last few years, the cryptocurrency market has exploded. It’s hard to go a day without hearing about it in the news. But what does that mean for your divorce?

Well, if you’re dealing with a crypto-rich spouse, it can mean some serious headaches. Crypto assets are notoriously difficult to trace and control—and it doesn’t help that there are still plenty of legal gray areas when it comes to cryptocurrencies themselves. That means they’re not always easy to deal with in court cases like divorce proceedings.

When it comes to discovering hidden assets such as cryptocurrencies, Masters Law Group has your back. Here’s everything you need to know about crypto assets in divorce cases so you can make sure you’re getting what’s fair.

Cryptocurrency Basics

Cryptocurrency is a form of digital currency that uses the technology of cryptography to secure its transactions. It is designed to be used as a medium of exchange, like money, but it can also be used to transfer data securely.

One of the early appeals of cryptocurrency was that it provided the opportunity to transfer large amounts of wealth anonymously without any government or institutional interference. These days, cryptocurrency is used by some owners to take care of routine matters such as paying bills, buying goods, and others use it as collateral to obtain loans. Many others are purchasing it as a form of investment.

The most popular form of cryptocurrency is Bitcoin. Some examples of other digital currencies include Litecoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Zcash, Bitcoin Cash, Cardano, among others. 

Why is Cryptocurrency Relevant Upon Divorce?

Cryptocurrency is an asset to be considered in the financial settlement. The reality is that it is not a feature of mainstream divorce yet. This is because a large proportion of the general public still views cryptocurrency as too much of a gamble and the difficulty of identifying whether or not someone holds cryptocurrency.

However, with the current growth in popularity we can expect to see more cases involving cryptocurrencies as assets for divorce settlements. Cryptocurrency is increasingly being used as an alternative form of payment and investment, so it’s important to understand how it could be treated in your divorce case.

Looking For Cryptocurrency Assets

If you suspect that your spouse/civil partner is hiding cryptocurrency from you, there are steps you can take to investigate the matter.

First, make sure that both parties provide full and frank disclosure. This means that both parties should disclose all of their assets, including cryptocurrency. If one party suspects that the other isn’t disclosing cryptocurrency in the course of their divorce proceedings, then preliminary investigative works need to begin.

The standard disclosure process requires each party to disclose bank statements. These should be carefully examined to see if there are any transactions or proof of purchase of cryptocurrency i.e. exchanges or trading platforms. If the bank statements aren’t showing anything, then you can  request your spouse’s credit card statements. You also can make a specific request for disclosure of all apps on their spouse’s smartphone.

Agreements on Dividing Crypto Assets

The rise of cryptocurrency has created a whole new world for the courts. With its fluctuating value, crypto assets can represent substantial sums of money that are not always easy to track down. This can lead to court cases where one spouse is accused of hiding assets from their spouse, or where an unscrupulous party will try to use the anonymity of crypto assets to hide their own assets.

When a couple gets divorced, it can be difficult to determine how to divide the assets. In the case of cryptocurrency, however, the process is fairly straightforward.

  • Simple Division: You receive a share of the cryptocurrency in its current form.
  • Custodial Holding: If you decide to not set up a cryptocurrency account, you can find the custodial approach suitable. A third-party custodian can transact in cryptocurrency, receive your share and hold it until the divorce is final.
  • Cryptocurrency Owner Liquidation: The former spouse who owns the asset will convert the other party’s share to cash. The digital currency’s value on the day of sale determines how much money you receive.
  • Liquidation With No Claim Upon Remaining Cryptocurrency: This approach starts the same as #3. However, both parties have agreed in advance that the original owner of the cryptocurrency now has full title to the remaining asset and does not owe the former spouse any remaining crypto.

Regardless of whether you decide to keep your cryptocurrency or sell it off, it’s important to remember that there is no loophole when it comes to divorce proceedings. The courts are used to the volatility and fluctuating value of shares and other types of assets—cryptocurrency is a whole new phenomenon.

If you’re having doubts and suspect that your spouse is hiding crypto and don’t know what signs to look out for, you can find that information here. If you have questions about the different types of crypto and are trying to get acquainted with the market, you can find that information here.

Masters Law Group – Cryptocurrency and Divorce Lawyers

When you are facing the divorce process in Illinois and are dealing with cryptocurrency asset division, do not hesitate to call the attorneys at Masters Law Group. 

Our team of attorneys are highly experienced in dealing with Cryptocurrencies in divorce and are here to answer your questions about divorce and digital asset division.

Contact us today for more information, or to schedule a consultation.

Crypto Divorce Lawyer

Dividing assets is a standard part of any Illinois divorce case. At Masters Law Group, our skilled cryptocurrency divorce attorneys track down these digital assets and negotiate an appropriate and fair division.

While some cryptocurrencies are easily found during the discovery phase of divorce proceedings, others, such as bitcoin, can be more challenging to find, particularly when they are private. If you have an impending divorce on your hands, you need to know how to find, value and divide them.

If you or your spouse own cryptocurrency, you are going to want to make sure it is discussed with your divorce attorney. It may be a marital asset that needs to be valued and divided; but due to cryptocurrency wildly fluctuating, it can sometimes be problematic to value, and therefore split fairly.

Here’s what you need to know about handling bitcoin and other cryptos in divorce.

A QUICK RECAP OF CRYPTOCURRENCY

The use of cryptocurrency varies user to user. Some people prefer to use cryptocurrency for online purchases to ensure secure financial transactions. Others might use it simply to capitalize on discounts or rewards offered for the use of digital currencies.

The most popular form of cryptocurrency is Bitcoin. Some examples of other digital currencies are Litecoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Zcash, Bitcoin Cash, and Cardano. Digital currency is bought, sold, and traded on various platforms. Coinbase is a popular platform used for Bitcoin. Some other digital currency exchange platforms are Kraken, BitStamp, ShapeShift, Gemini, and Bisq.

Cryptocurrencies are validated by a blockchain. This refers to a list of records called blocks that are linked together like a chain. Blockchains are designed to be secure. The foundation of a blockchain is a “decentralized database.” Blockchains can include a piece of information called a hash.

It is very important to know if any parties in a family law matter have cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency can be a marital asset eligible for division in a divorce. If you know cryptocurrency exists, it will need to be valued. Cryptocurrency has an exchange rate just like standard currency and it can be converted into U.S. dollars. There are programs on the internet that can assist with the conversion of cryptocurrency to dollars. It may be helpful to know which conversion rate program that cryptocurrency owner utilizes.

LOOKING FOR CRYPTOCURRENCY

Valuation presents the primary difficulty when two people need to divide digital currency. Cryptocurrency assets are notorious for sharp shifts in value over short periods of time.

Figuring out whether or not cryptocurrency exists is important. Have you discussed cryptocurrency with your spouse? Have you overheard them boating to their friends about their crypto wallet? Will bank account statements or credit card statements show deposits or withdrawals from a digital currency platform? Are there emails or other correspondence that contain information about cryptocurrency?

If any of these are true in your marriage or divorce, you should notify your attorney immediately. Your attorney will need to start collecting information about the cryptocurrency. Obtaining documentation about cryptocurrency can be tricky because often the point of cryptocurrency is for transactions to remain private or secure.

First, it needs to be determined if the cryptocurrency owner has a wallet and whether that wallet is online or is a physical device. The wallet will have an ID and a password for logging which can be requested in discovery. Wallets can be similar to a portable hard drive and be an actual physical item. In other instances, the wallet may just be online and through one of the cryptocurrency exchange platforms. Different steps need to be taken to preserve information from both kinds of wallets.

An owner can usually download a transaction history from his/her wallet or exchange platform. The transaction history is often downloaded as an Excel spreadsheet or other electronic document. The download contains information like a bank statement such as date, time, amount of cryptocurrency, conversion rate, balance, transaction ID, and hash information.

Most transactions will show some sort of confirmation of purchase. Often the confirmation occurs via email and serves as a receipt. The confirmation may include the conversion rate, dollar amount, and a date and timestamp. In some instances, the confirmation may identify where the cryptocurrency user deposited the funds after sale or where they withdrew the funds from to make a purchase. This can help you in the long run to identify other assets.

Cryptocurrency Division

After identifying crypto as a marital asset and considering its valuation, you have four main options for dividing the assets in  question:

  • Simple Division: In this approach, you simply receive a share of the cryptocurrency in its current form.
  • Custodial Holding: Should you not wish to set up a cryptocurrency account, you may find the custodial approach suitable. A third-party custodian who can transact in cryptocurrency receives your share and holds it until the divorce is final.
  • Cryptocurrency Owner Liquidation: The former spouse who owns the asset will convert the other party’s share to cash. The digital currency’s value on the day of sale determines how much money you receive.
  • Liquidation With No Claim Upon Remaining Cryptocurrency: This approach starts the same as #3. However, both parties have agreed in advance that the original owner of the cryptocurrency now has full title to the remaining asset and does not owe the former spouse any more of the cryptocurrency regardless of how its value may change in the future.

Choosing how to distribute cryptocurrency in a divorce requires careful evaluation. You may need to weigh advice from your divorce attorney to arrive at the best solution for your unique case.

FINAL THOUGHTS

These days, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are all the rage. As such, the issue of bitcoin is bound to pop up in divorce cases.

Lack of familiarity with cryptocurrency or outright discomfort with it add another wrinkle to divorce negotiations. Which is why it is important to make sure that bitcoin is properly discovered and valued in family law matters. If you know or suspect that cryptocurrency will be a part of your divorce, talk to your family law attorney immediately and put together a game plan for dealing with it. This may include a plan for how to explain how cryptocurrency works with other parties or professionals in your case.

If you are concerned about how your or your spouse’s cryptocurrency assets could affect your divorce or the asset division process, Masters Law Group can help. Our team of highly trained and experienced attorneys are here to answer your questions about divorce and digital asset division.

Contact us today for more information, or to schedule a consultation.

The Illinois Divorce Process and Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies are a new form of currency, rapidly gaining popularity and media attention across the globe. It’s estimated more than 20 million Americans may own cryptocurrency, and how to split holdings has become a growing concern in divorce settlements. 

The problem for divorcing couples is that the division and valuation of cryptocurrencies can be just as difficult as dividing up the equity in a home.

Throughout our cryptocurrency series we have answered many questions regarding different types of crypto and where you can find hidden assets. In a world where cryptocurrency is increasingly accepted as legitimate, it’s only natural that Masters Law Group’s experienced attorneys would know how to handle it. Here’s a quick look at how the state handles the issue at hand.

Disclosing Bitcoins And Cryptocurrencies in an Illinois Divorce

It’s important to understand how the state of Illinois divides and separates cryptocurrency assets. Illinois has taken steps to protect individuals who have invested in cryptocurrencies by allowing them to be counted as part of their overall net worth during divorce proceedings.

However, there are some stipulations involved in this process. Any money received from selling cryptocurrency is considered to be liquidated property and thus should not be counted as part of the overall net worth of an individual during a divorce settlement.

This process may trigger a couple of questions. How would you verify Bitcoin holdings? Would you print a screen grab from an online platform where you hold Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies? Would you entrust your ex-spouse or their attorneys with the password to your accounts? Coin exchange companies such as Coinbase will issue a 1099-K each year if there have been $20,000 or more in exchanges of cryptocurrency.

Typically, the opposing party’s attorney will go through the process of cleaning up the financial affidavit and ask you for these documents to verify the claimed assets. The opposing party’s attorney will issue a “Notice To Produce” asking for copies of statements for your 401k, bank accounts, etc. If you have access to those documents, you must provide them a copy of those documents if they request it. Failure to do so can result in a finding of contempt of court.

The Illinois Department of Revenue requires 1099-K forms to be submitted electronically to Illinois when four or more separate transactions exceed $1,000 or if you are required by the IRS* to electronically file Forms 1099-K.

Essentially any 4 crypto-currency purchases, sales or trades will trigger a 1099-K in Illinois and the cryptocurrency holder will have those 1099-K as part of their standard tax packet. If your spouse will not fully disclose their cryptocurrency holdings, you may have to turn to an expensive third party to discover any additional holdings.

How Do You Divide Crypto in Illinois?

After determining the actual existence and quantity of your spouse’s cryptocurrency, the next step in the analysis is to figure out what portion of the cryptocurrency is marital. In Illinois, all property held by either party is presumed marital property unless it falls under an exception such as being acquired before the marriage, being a gift or an inheritance.

Typically, if both parties agree to the settlement they might have to include a formula for the volatility of the crypto. Once the judge approves of the formula, the price of that cryptocurrency in the martial estate becomes more foreseeable. 

Dividing crypto in Illinois is similar to the division of any other assets. Illinois is not a community property state, which means the court will split assets purchased, converted or appraised throughout the marriage in an equitable manner. It’s important to note that when it’s split equitably, it doesn’t always mean equal. Here are a couple factors that determine equitable distribution:

  • Age, health, financial circumstance of a spouse
  • Financial contributions to marital estate
  • Court-ordered obligations related to previous marriages
  • Child custody considerations
  • Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements
  • Tax Concerns
  • Marriage Duration
  • Alimony provisions

If you are ever unsure about the ownership of your property, you should consult legal counsel immediately in order to avoid any uncertainness. Lastly, if both parties agree to the settlement they might have to include a formula for the volatility of the crypto. Once the judge approves of the formula, the price of that cryptocurrency in the martial estate becomes more foreseeable.

The volatility of the price of these assets makes it very difficult to adequately value at the time of the divorce. Discovery and final negotiation of a divorce can sometimes take months and in that time a cryptocurrency could double or halve in value. A cash out of the cryptocurrency before the finality of the divorce is probably advised to finalize the marital value.

How Masters Law Group Can Help

When it comes to modern-day divorce cases, Masters Law Group has you covered on all things crypto. If you’re facing a divorce and suspect that your spouse is hiding crypto (and don’t know what signs to look out for), you can find that information in our recent blog here. If you have questions about the different types of popularized crypto, you can find that information right here.

Masters Law Group is here to help you through this stressful time. It’s important to consult your attorney as soon as you find any hidden cryptocurrency and discuss everything you know about the assets such as the type of crypto, the date of purchase and its appreciation. Gather any documents and records you may need in order to get your affairs in order. 

Our team of attorneys are highly experienced in dealing with Cryptocurrencies in divorce and are here to answer your questions about divorce and digital asset division.

Contact us today for more information, or to schedule a consultation.

Cryptocurrency Series: 12 Most Popular Types of Crypto and What to Know Before Divorce.

Cryptocurrency is by design difficult to trace, making it an ideal asset to hide from a spouse. If you’re new to the world of Crypto, it gets even more challenging. Here’s a list of the most popular cryptos to look out for and how to include them in your divoce settlement. 

If you’ve been following our Crypto and Divorce series you may already be aware of the difficulties crypto assets bear in divorce. As a quick recap, we’ll be covering what Cryptocurrency is as well as the 12 most popular types of crypto in the market.

With all of these forces at play during a divorce, it’s best to be prepared for whatever the outcome may be and hiring a family law attorney well-versed in cryptocurrencies is always an advantage. Here’s what you need to know about the 12 most popular types of Cryptocurrencies and how you can best prepare for them before divorce. 

Cryptocurrency is a digital form of payment that can be used to purchase goods or services online. Every transaction is done online and tracked via a highly secure ledger called a blockchain. Let’s jump into some of the various types of crypto there is on the market.

  • Bitcoin (BTC)

Notably known as the most popular form of crypto, Bitcoin is widely known as the first major cryptocurrency to hit the market. It first debuted in 2009 and many others have become popular but not as popular as the original. 

Bitcoin is still the coin people generally reference when they talk about digital currency. Its mysterious creator — allegedly Satoshi Nakamoto — debuted the currency in 2009 and it’s been on a roller-coaster ride since then. However, it wasn’t until 2017 that the cryptocurrency broke into popular consciousness.

  • Ethereum (ETH)

Ethereum is the second name you’re most likely to recognize in the crypto space. The system allows you to use ether to perform a number of functions, but the smart contract aspect of Ethereum helps make it a popular currency.

Ether is used mainly for two purposes: It is traded as a digital currency on exchanges in the same way as other cryptocurrencies, and it is used on the Ethereum network to run applications. According to Ethereum, “people all over the world use ETH to make payments, as a store of value, or as collateral.”

  • Tether (USDT)

Tether’s price is anchored at $1 per coin. That’s because it is what’s called a stablecoin. Stablecoins are tied to the value of a specific asset, in Tether’s case, the U.S. Dollar. Tether often acts as a medium when traders move from one cryptocurrency to another. Rather than move back to dollars, they use Tether. However, some people are concerned that Tether isn’t safely backed by dollars held in reserve but instead uses a short-term form of unsecured debt.

  • Binance Coin (BNB)

Binance Coin is the cryptocurrency issued by Binance, among the largest crypto exchanges in the world. While originally created as a token to pay for discounted trades, Binance Coin can now be used for payments as well as purchasing various goods and services.

  • USD Coin (USDC)

Tether and USD Coin are both stablecoins that are attached to the dollar, meaning that its value should not fluctuate. The currency’s founders say that it’s backed by fully reserved assets or those with “equivalent fair value” and those assets are held in accounts with regulated U.S. institutions.

  • Ripple (XRP) 

Formerly known as Ripple and created in 2012, XRP offers a way to pay in many different real-world currencies. Ripple can be useful in cross-border transactions and uses a trust-less mechanism to facilitate payments. 

Ripple is known for their advanced blockchain technology for global payments. Where financial institutions are able to expand into new markets around the world and eliminate pre-funding by leveraging the power of XRP.

  • Solana (SOL)

Solana was created in 2017 by Anatoly Yakovenko alongside current Solana board member and Chief Operations Officer Raj Gokal. Yakovenko, now Solana Lab’s CEO, came from a background in system design and wanted to apply his knowledge toward a new blockchain paradigm that enabled faster processing speeds.

Solana is a newer cryptocurrency and it touts its speed at completing transactions and the overall robustness of its “web-scale” platform. The issuance of the currency, called SOL, is capped at 480 million coins. Solana’s increasing popularity has made it Ethereum’s growing rival. 

  • Terra (LUNA)

Using its currency Luna, Terra is a platform that helps backstop a range of stablecoins based on real currencies such as the dollar or euro. Terra helps stabilize the price of stablecoins through various technical means, and it also supports smart contracts.

According to the Terra website, the Terra protocol creates stablecoins that track the price of any fiat currency using a combination of open market arbitrage incentives and decentralized Oracle voting. On the Terra blockchain, users may spend, save, trade, and swap Terra stablecoins.

  • Cardano (ADA)

Cardano is the cryptocurrency platform behind ada, the name of the currency. Cardano is a proof-of-stake blockchain platform: the first to be founded on peer-reviewed research and developed through evidence-based methods. It combines pioneering technologies to provide unparalleled security and sustainability to decentralized applications, systems, and societies. Cardano was created by the co-founder of Ethereum, and this cryptocurrency also uses smart contracts, enabling identity management. 

  • Avalanche (AVAX)

Avalanche is a fast and low-cost smart contracts-based blockchain platform focused on building decentralized apps and facilitating the creation of custom blockchains. Its users can process transactions in the native AVAX token. 

The AVAX token is hard-capped which makes it a scarce asset that is used to pay for fees, and secret the platform through staking. Ultimately the hard cap provides a basic unit of account between the multiple subnets within Avalanche.

  • Polkadot (DOT)

Polkadot is a currency that connects blockchains which allows value and data to be sent across other incompatible networks. For example Bitcoin and Ethereum. It’s also designed to be fast and scalable. 

The DOT token is used for staking and governance; it can be bought or sold on Coinbase and other exchanges. Polkadot was founded by another co-founder of Ethereum. Industry specialists believe Polkadot is looking to eventually dethrone Ethereum.

  • Dogecoin (DOGE)

Dogecoin originated as an alternative to traditional cryptocurrency such as bitcoin. Both the name and logo were based off of a meme that went viral. Dogecoin is intentionally abundant which is different in comparison to bitcoin which is scarce. In 2021, Dogecoin became one of the biggest cryptocurrencies in the market. Dogecoin crypto can be used for payments or sending money.

Divorce and Crypto Assets

Cryptocurrency is considered an asset and as a result, it may be considered separate property or marital property. In some cases, growth in the value of cryptocurrency during the marriage may be considered a marital asset, even if the original purchase took place before the marriage.

This is especially true when both spouses were involved in using cryptocurrency, investing in crypto assets, or planning to rely on crypto to fund future financial ventures. If you’re a crypto investor considering divorce, you should always consult with your lawyer about how you can expect your investments to be affected by the separation.

Bottom Line

The cryptocurrency market could be compared to the Wild West. Although, the U.S. government has been taking on a more active role in overseeing crypto space. Volatility can be intense, with crypto assets fluctuating significantly even in a single day. This leaves individual investors to trade against highly sophisticated players, making it a fraught experience for beginners getting into crypto.

Regardless of your skill level, splitting digital currency may be more complex than traditional investments, such as stocks, bonds, or mutual funds. It is important to be prepared and make sure that crypto is properly discovered and valued in family law matters. If you know or suspect that cryptocurrency will be a part of your divorce, talk to your family law attorney immediately and put together a game plan in your divorce case.

Our team of award-winning attorneys are highly experienced in dealing with Cryptocurrencies in divorce, and are here to answer your questions about divorce and digital asset division.

Contact us today for more information, or to schedule a consultation.

How is Cryptocurrency Split in Illinois?

With Cryptocurrencies exploding since 2009, they’re now beginning to show up in divorce courts across the U.S. Painstakingly difficult to trace and value, it’s best to find a divorce attorney well-versed in cryptocurrencies and who understands how to find, value and split cryptos in your divorce case. 

In our current Cryptocurrencies and Divorce series, we discussed situations where cryptocurrency can be found during a divorce settlement as well as the various types of cryptocurrencies and where they can lie if they are being hidden.

If you and your spouse are in the process of a divorce or considering divorce, you may want to tune in. It’s important to have an attorney who understands how volatile crypto is and how to equally divide assets. In order to protect your financial future, it’s absolutely essential to understand how the state of Illinois splits and divides crypto during a divorce settlement.

Here’s a look at how the state of Illinois splits cryptocurrency assets amid divorce.

Cryptocurrencies and Wallets

Crypto first appeared on the scene in 2009, and slowly rose to fame with the public over the course of several years. Since then, divorce courts have seen a large amount of settlement cases dealing with the division of cryptocurrency assets. While there are many different types of crypto on the market, it’s important to recognize some of the most frequently used cryptocurrencies. Some of the most popular include:

You can purchase crypto on exchange networks like Biance, Coinbase or Kraken – some of the most frequently used networks that invest in digital currencies. With low fees, scope for growth, and seamless transactions, it makes it all the more appealing to want to take part in the growing crypto market evolution. 

Splitting Crypto in Illinois

There’s a couple different situations where a judge will look at determining the division of assets in a divorce settlement. For example, how do you assess the value of the crypto you have? It’s important to note that crypto is volatile and prices always fluctuate drastically, sometimes within minutes throughout the course of one day. The price swings can significantly affect the settlement of marital property.

Typically, if both parties agree to the settlement they might have to include a formula for the volatility of the crypto. Once the judge approves of the formula, the price of that cryptocurrency in the martial estate becomes more foreseeable.

Dividing crypto in Illinois is similar to the division of any other assets. Illinois is not a community property state, which means the court will split assets purchased, converted or appraised throughout the marriage in an equitable manner. It’s important to note that when it’s split equitably, it doesn’t always mean equal. Here are a couple factors that determine equitable distribution:

  • Age, health, financial circumstance of a spouse
  • Financial contributions to marital estate
  • Court-ordered obligations related to previous marriages
  • Child custody considerations
  • Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements
  • Tax Concerns
  • Marriage Duration
  • Alimony provisions

If you are ever unsure about the ownership of your property, you should consult legal counsel immediately in order to avoid any uncertainness.

How Masters Law Group Can Help

At Masters Law group we have all cryptocurrency topics covered. If you’re having doubts and suspect that your spouse is hiding crypto and don’t know what signs to look out for, you can find that information here. If you have questions about the different types of crypto and are trying to get acquainted with the market, you can find that information here.

Masters Law Group is here to help you through this stressful time. It’s important to consult your attorney as soon as you find any hidden cryptocurrency and discuss everything you know about the assets such as the type of crypto, the date of purchase and its appreciation. Gather any documents and records you may need in order to get your affairs in order. 

Our team of attorneys are highly experienced in dealing with Cryptocurrencies in divorce and are here to answer your questions about divorce and digital asset division.

Contact us today for more information, or to schedule a consultation.

 

Top 6 Signs Your Spouse is Hiding Crypto

Is my spouse hiding Crypto? We know hiding assets is a penalty-inducing divorce tactic used by many. But in 2022, soon-to-be divorcees are hiding money from family members and authorities using cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency nowadays can add new complications to a divorce. Just like any other marital asset, if cryptocurrency, or other digital currency was purchased, or increased in value, during the marriage, it is a marital asset that is subject to distribution in both equitable distribution and community property states.

In the fourth part of our Crypto Currencies and Divorce series, we discussed the situations in which we discussed the situations in which cryptocurrency can be found during the divorce settlement process and also if it can be lost within the settlement. While tracking down the funds isn’t an easy process, this article will give you signs to watch out for.

Here’s what you need to know if your spouse is hiding crypto.Hiding Crypto

1. Bank and Credit Statements

First things first, if you believe that your spouse is hiding cryptocurrency and has used marital money to purchase it, you should take an active role in looking for proof of your suspicions.

Cryptocurrency is usually purchased with liquid cash, so at some point money moves from a bank account into a cryptocurrency exchange. Certain websites function as the entry point for most people interested in obtaining or trading Bitcoin and other digital currencies. Look for popular echange names such as: Coinbase, Binance, Etoro, Coin Switch, Luno and PaxForex. All it can take is one initial transaction in “normal dollars and cents” to enter this new world of Bitcoin, where untold more digital currency can be obtained. 

If you see any crypto activity, however insignificant, it’s worthy to investigate further — especially if your spouse omitted it from the initial deivorce documentation.

2. Crypto Wallets and Private Keys

Crypto keys make for excellent evidence. Each crypto wallet comes with a key that can then be traced to show all transactions associated with the wallet. A sure sign of Crypto activity in the household is the discovery of a crypto key. But not many know what to look for, since the key doesn’t represent a traditional metal object. So what do these keys look like?

A private key is a secret, alphanumeric password/number used to spend/send your bitcoins to another Bitcoin address. It is a 256-bit long number that is picked randomly as soon as you make a wallet.

The degree of randomness and uniqueness is well defined by cryptographic functions for security purposes.

This is how the Bitcoin private key looks:

2zJ4kLf5zgWrnogidDA76MzPL6TsZZY36hpXXssSzNydYXYB9fe

Many of these password keys are stored on a keydrive. If you happen to find this key, take note of it for evidence. Many hide these keydrives in a private and secure place, such as a safe, while others can simply save these password key codes hidden on their laptops.

3. Presence Crypto Exchanges in Apps

See if there are any crypto-related apps installed on shared electronic devices. Look for Bitcoin wallets like Coinbase, Mycelium, Ledger, SoFi, and Trezor, or apps for buying and selling crypto, like CEX.IO or BlockFi.

Any of the common exchanges listed above offer apps for mobile crypto banking. If you share one phone account, you may be able to access the history of all apps downloaded to any phone on your plan. If you are not able to obtain this information on your own, your attorney can add to this to items to be produced during discovery.

4. Loan Applications & Tax Returns

Another area to explore are loan applications and tax returns. If a person is trying to hide assets from you, and they are not disclosing Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies on their net worth statement, they might record it on a loan application. 

It’s also important to check if your spouse has reported crypto on tax returns. Reporting of digital currency is required by the IRS, even though there are those who fail to do so. In 2014, the IRS declared that virtual currencies are property.

5. Large Online Purchases

For spouses who are hiding currency, they don’t buy the initial crypto to put in their wallet, which in turn, avoids any direct charges made to a bank or credit account. Instead, they connect with a crypto user in one of the many user forums who is willing to accept goods that will be paid in said cryptocurrency. 

The agreement might entail buying items of the crypto owner’s choice on Amazon, and in return, this crypto will be deposited in the owner’s empty wallet, giving them their entrance into this world. It’s important to remember that crypto wallets function completely outside the normal banking system, so no one will be the wiser should this transaction take place — unless you get smart about your spouse’s buying habits. 

Scan Amazon and other online sellers. If you don’t have access to your spouse’s Amazon account, this can be something that your attorney requests to see during divorce discovery.

6. Secretive Behavior with Finances

If you still receive paper statements this is a great way to track down their use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. If the paper trail used to show up in the mail and then suddenly stopped – that’s a red flag and should raise some suspicion. 

It’s important to have passwords to all of your shared online bank and credit accounts, but if they’ve been changed, that’s again, another red flag. Call your bank and credit card company to request copies be sent directly to you for all joint accounts. Let your attorney know as soon as possible so that steps can be taken to make your spouse produce documentation of all joint accounts.

Final Thoughts

If you know or suspect that cryptocurrency will be a part of your divorce, talk to your family law attorney immediately and put together a game plan for dealing with it. 

At Masters Law Group, our team of attorneys are highly experienced in dealing with Cryptocurrencies in divorce and are here to answer your questions about divorce and digital asset division.

Contact us here today for more information, or to schedule a consultation 

Divorce and Cryptocurrencies Part 3: Ethereum Assets.

There’s no doubt that cryptocurrency nowadays can add new complications to divorce. Popular crypto assets like Bitcoin and Ethereum rise (and fall) dramatically in price making them often highly volatile. If you have an impending divorce on your hands, you need to know how to find, value and divide these new world assets. Here’s what you should know. 

In the second part of our Cryptocurrencies and Divorce series, we discussed the situations in which cryptocurrency can be found during the divorce settlement process and also if it can be lost within the settlement. While tracking down the funds isn’t an easy process, our third part of the series will give you a little more insight on the Cryptocurrency Ethereum Assets.

If you or your spouse owns cryptocurrency, you are going to want to make sure it is discussed with your divorce attorney. It may be a marital asset that needs to be valued and divided; but due to cryptocurrency wildly fluctuating, it can sometimes be problematic to value, and therefore split, fairly.

Here’s what you need to know about handling Ethereum Assets amid divorce.

What is Ethereum?

Ethereum, also known as ETH, is a decentralized, open-source blockchain with smart contract functionality. Currently, Ethereum is the largest and most well-established, open-ended decentralized software platform. 

Ethereum comes with its own programming language that runs on a blockchain, enabling developers to build and run distributed applications. The potential applications of Ethereum are wide-ranging and are powered by its native cryptographic token, (ETH).

Ether is used mainly for two purposes: It is traded as a digital currency on exchanges in the same way as other cryptocurrencies, and it is used on the Ethereum network to run applications. According to Ethereum, “people all over the world use ETH to make payments, as a store of value, or as collateral.”

Bitcoin Vs. Ethereum

Ether and Bitcoin are similar and also differ in many ways: Each is a digital currency traded via online exchanges and stored in various types of cryptocurrency wallets. Both of these tokens are not issued or regulated by a central bank or other authority. Both make use of the distributed ledger technology known as blockchain.

Transactions on the Ethereum network may contain executable code, while data affixed to Bitcoin network transactions are generally only for keeping notes. BTC and ETH are both digital currencies, but the primary purpose of ether is not to establish itself as an alternative monetary system but rather to facilitate and monetize the operation of the Ethereum smart contract and dApp platform.

The ultimate main difference between the two is that Bitcoin is primarily designed to be an alternative to traditional currencies and a way to exchange and store value. Ethereum is a programmable blockchain that finds application in numerous areas, including DeFi, smart contracts, and NFTs.

Ethereum is another use case for a blockchain that supports the Bitcoin network and theoretically does not compete with Bitcoin. However, the popularity of ether has pushed it into competition with all other cryptocurrencies, especially from the perspective of traders. For most of its history since the mid-2015 launch, ether has been close behind Bitcoin on rankings of the top cryptocurrencies by market cap.

Finding & Splitting Ethereum Assets

While Bitcoin and Ethereum are not the same thing, it’s important to know that Ethereum can be just as easily divided as Bitcoin. When Bitcoin is considered marital property, the easiest way to divide them is to split the determined value 50/50. Since most Bitcoin can be cashed out in full, splitting the value 50/50 means each spouse would simply get half.

Another way to divide cryptos is by negotiating other marital property in exchange. If the spouse with the cryptocurrencies wants to keep them, they can give up other marital property with the same determined value to the other spouse.

The costs associated with uncovering hidden cryptocurrency assets can also be substantial. Before moving forward with a court order to uncover potential hidden crypto assets, a spouse and their divorce lawyers may want to make sure that they are relatively certain about the outcome. 

The amount of money involved is also a consideration. People with a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars in undisclosed cryptocurrency are rarely the proper target of such an investigation. An experienced family law attorney may help a spouse concerned about crypto assets decide whether or how to pursue a court order and full forensic investigation. 

Final Thoughts

Living in a digital age like we do today, Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies are expected to pop up in a divorce settlement. It is important to be prepared and make sure that crypto is properly discovered and valued in family law matters. If you know or suspect that cryptocurrency will be a part of your divorce, talk to your family law attorney immediately and put together a game plan for dealing with it. 

Our team of attorneys are highly experienced in dealing with Cryptocurrencies in divorce and are here to answer your questions about divorce and digital asset division.

Contact us today for more information, or to schedule a consultation.

Can You Lose Bitcoin in a Divorce?

While some cryptocurrencies are easily found during the discovery phase of divorce proceedings, others, such as bitcoin, can be more challenging to find, particularly when they are private. If you have an impending divorce on your hands, you need to know how to find, value and divide them. Here’s what you should know. 

In the first of our Cryptocurrencies and Divorce series, we discussed how the rise and popularity of cryptocurrency has led to some spouses hiding digital assets during divorce settlements, and tracking down the funds isn’t an easy process.

If you or your spouse own cryptocurrency, you are going to want to make sure it is discussed with your divorce attorney. It may be a marital asset that needs to be valued and divided; but due to cryptocurrency wildly fluctuating, it can sometimes be problematic to value, and therefore split fairly.

Here’s what you need to know about handling bitcoin and other cryptos in divorce.

A Quick Recap of Cryptocurrency 

The use of cryptocurrency varies user to user. Some people prefer to use cryptocurrency for online purchases to ensure secure financial transactions. Others might use it simply to capitalize on discounts or rewards offered for the use of digital currencies.

The most popular form of cryptocurrency is Bitcoin. Some examples of other digital currencies are Litecoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Zcash, Bitcoin Cash, and Cardano. Digital currency is bought, sold, and traded on various platforms. Coinbase is a popular platform used for Bitcoin. Some other digital currency exchange platforms are Kraken, BitStamp, ShapeShift, Gemini, and Bisq.

Cryptocurrencies are validated by a blockchain. This refers to a list of records called blocks that are linked together like a chain. Blockchains are designed to be secure. The foundation of a blockchain is a “decentralized database.” Blockchains can include a piece of information called a hash.

It is very important to know if any parties in a family law matter have cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency can be a marital asset eligible for division in a divorce. If you know cryptocurrency exists, it will need to be valued. Cryptocurrency has an exchange rate just like standard currency and it can be converted into U.S. dollars. There are programs on the internet that can assist with the conversion of cryptocurrency to dollars. It may be helpful to know which conversion rate program that cryptocurrency owner utilizes.

Looking for Cryptocurrency

Figuring out whether or not cryptocurrency exists is important. Have you discussed cryptocurrency with your spouse? Have you overheard them boating to their friends about their crypto wallet? Will bank account statements or credit card statements show deposits or withdrawals from a digital currency platform? Are there emails or other correspondence that contain information about cryptocurrency?

If any of these are true in your marriage or divorce, you should notify your attorney immediately. Your attorney will need to start collecting information about the cryptocurrency. Obtaining documentation about cryptocurrency can be tricky because often the point of cryptocurrency is for transactions to remain private or secure.

First, it needs to be determined if the cryptocurrency owner has a wallet and whether that wallet is online or is a physical device. The wallet will have an ID and a password for logging which can be requested in discovery. Wallets can be similar to a portable hard drive and be an actual physical item. In other instances, the wallet may just be online and through one of the cryptocurrency exchange platforms. Different steps need to be taken to preserve information from both kinds of wallets.

An owner can usually download a transaction history from his/her wallet or exchange platform. The transaction history is often downloaded as an Excel spreadsheet or other electronic document. The download contains information like a bank statement such as date, time, amount of cryptocurrency, conversion rate, balance, transaction ID, and hash information.

Most transactions will show some sort of confirmation of purchase. Often the confirmation occurs via email and serves as a receipt. The confirmation may include the conversion rate, dollar amount, and a date and timestamp. In some instances, the confirmation may identify where the cryptocurrency user deposited the funds after sale or where they withdrew the funds from to make a purchase. This can help you in the long run to identify other assets.

Can You Lose Bitcoin in a Divorce?

Bitcoin is treated the same as any other asset in a divorce. If the bitcoin transaction was before the marriage, was given as a gift or through an inheritance, it is not marital property and usually cannot be divided. Therefore, if the transaction was during the marriage, it is marital property and can be divided.

When bitcoin is considered marital property, the easiest way to divide them is to split the determined value 50/50. Since most bitcoin can be cashed out in full, splitting the value 50/50 means each spouse would simply get half.

Another way to divide bitcoin is by negotiating other marital property in exchange. If the spouse with the bitcoin wants to keep them, they can give up other marital property with the same determined value to the other spouse.

Final Thoughts

These days, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are all the rage. As such, the issue of bitcoin is bound to pop up in divorce cases.

It is important to make sure that bitcoin is properly discovered and valued in family law matters. If you know or suspect that cryptocurrency will be a part of your divorce, talk to your family law attorney immediately and put together a game plan for dealing with it. This may include a plan for how to explain how cryptocurrency works with other parties or professionals in your case.

If you are concerned about how your or your spouse’s cryptocurrency assets could affect your divorce or the asset division process, Masters Law Group can help. Our team of highly trained and experienced attorneys are here to answer your questions about divorce and digital asset division.

Contact us today for more information, or to schedule a consultation.

 

How is Cryptocurrency Divided in Divorce?

Cryptocurrency is an asset like any other kind of asset, and as a result, it may be considered separate property or marital property. What many people do not understand is exactly how complicated this can become. 

Cryptocurrency is a type of code or software that dictates how a unit of currency is produced and regulated.  Essentially, the creator of the cryptocurrency makes the units using an algorithm that relies on cryptography to secure the currency. The most common cryptocurrency, and the first of its kind, is Bitcoin, but there are thousands of other types that can be purchased or earned.

Despite Bitcoin and Crypto prices being extremely volatile, (the recent Crypto crash being a prime example), cryptocurrency is gaining in popularity and becoming a more and more common asset seen in divorce cases.

Crypto and Divorce Trend

Cryptocurrency has gone from an obscure hobby to a significant investment for many people across the country. As crypto assets like bitcoin rose dramatically in price, many investors became wealthy, especially those who entered the crypto market in the early days. However, cryptocurrency can also add new complications to a divorce, particularly when it comes to dividing assets between divorcing spouses.

Here’s a look at some commonly asked questions about cryptocurrency assets in a divorce.

Q: What is Cryptocurrency and is it Considered Marital Property?

A: Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that allows secure transactions on the internet without having to go through a bank. Bitcoins can be exchanged or traded for other currency, products, or services and have increased in use since their creation in 2008. With this increase comes new challenges in a divorce when it comes to dividing up assets.

Cryptocurrency is considered an asset and as a result, it may be considered separate property or marital property. In some cases, growth in the value of cryptocurrency during the marriage may be considered a marital asset, even if the original purchase took place before the marriage. 

This is especially true when both spouses were involved in using cryptocurrency, investing in crypto assets, or planning to rely on crypto to fund future financial ventures. If you’re a crypto investor considering divorce, you should always consult with your lawyer about how you can expect your investments to be affected by the separation.

Q: Can You Lose Bitcoin in a Divorce?

A: Bitcoins are treated the same as any other asset in a divorce. If the bitcoin transaction was before the marriage, was given as a gift or through an inheritance, it is not marital property and cannot be divided. Therefore, if the transaction was during the marriage, it is marital property and can be divided.

When bitcoins are considered marital property, the easiest way to divide them is to split the determined value 50/50. Since most bitcoins can be cashed out in full, splitting the value 50/50 means each spouse would simply get half.

Another way to divide bitcoins is by negotiating other marital property in exchange. This means, if the spouse with the bitcoins wants to keep them, they can give up other marital property with the same determined value to the other spouse.

Q: Can Cryptocurrency Be Used to Hide Assets During Divorce?

A: A misinformation gap can easily arise especially when only one partner is involved in the crypto market and the other spouse has little knowledge on the aspects of crypto investments. This gap can lead to one partner not knowing what to look for when it comes to uncovering crypto holdings in the asset division process. 

The growing awareness of cryptocurrency technology has led to more divorce attorneys thinking about how to deal with crypto as a way of hiding assets. In some cases, a spouse may suspect the other party has undisclosed crypto holdings, while in other cases, they may notice that the other spouse suddenly seems to have a source of funds that is not tied to their existing employment or investments.

There are several ways that cryptocurrency assets may be discovered. The best-known and easiest to uncover are bitcoin and ethereum. Other cryptocurrencies may offer higher levels of anonymity. Those assets are much less valuable and more volatile than the better-known digital currencies. A forensic expert typically brought in by the parties, may search for cryptocurrency tickers, login credentials for exchanges, or keys for certain types of digital wallets.

Bank statements, credit card statements, and other financial documents may indicate transactions for crypto purchases from various exchanges.

Final Thoughts

During a marriage, it’s important for both partners to have an understanding of their marital income, and investments. With greater knowledge about finances shared between spouses, it can be far more difficult for one person to hide assets during a divorce. 

If you are concerned about how your or your spouse’s cryptocurrency assets could affect your divorce or the asset division process, Masters Law Group can help. Our team of highly trained and experienced family law attorneys are here to answer your questions about divorce and digital asset division.

Contact us today for more information, or to schedule a consultation.