Bitcoin is an electronic alternative currency that has been growing in popularity. Unfortunately, the electronic currency can be harder to trace than traditional money and thus there is a growing concern that Bitcoin could be used to hide assets during the process of divorce.
When a couple separates and dissolves their marriage, a detailed accounting of their assets must be obtained so that a fair divorce settlement can be reached. If one spouse hides money or assets, this can complicate matters greatly. An experienced family law lawyer in Austin can help. Call Bertolino LLP today to learn more and to get the legal assistance you need to protect your assets.
Bitcoin and Divorce
CNBC recently published an article on the troubling trend of using Bitcoin to hide assets and prevent a fair divorce settlement.
Bitcoin allows for instant peer-to-peer transactions with no central authority or issuing bank. The alternative currency was first introduced in 2009 and is now used worldwide. The U.S. treasury has referred to it as a "decentralized virtual currency," and Bitcoins can be exchanged for U.S. dollars as well as for both products and services.
Unfortunately, because of the nature of Bitcoins, investors have much more anonymity than they would if they had their money in a traditional investment. Bitcoins are also much more difficult to link to the owner than bank accounts or share holdings. As a result, a husband or wife who is involved in a divorce could buy Bitcoins without a paper trail and it could be difficult to calculate the value of the virtual currency that is owned.
Because the currency can be transferred quickly and often anonymously between online wallets, Bitcoins could also be transferred to friends outside of the jurisdiction where a divorce is taking place. This makes it much harder for the money to be discovered during a separation.
Evidence that this trend is catching on can be found in online Bitcoin forums where people discuss the possibility of using the currency to shield assets. Because Texas is a community property state and all marital assets are divided 50-50 regardless of who earned the money, there could be tremendous incentive for this type of dishonest behavior.
Hiding assets is not permissible in a divorce, and when a spouse is not up front about money or property owned, this can make a mediated divorce impossible. The spouse who believes that assets are being hidden will need to ask the court to subpoena records and order financial disclosures so that a fair divorce settlement can be reached.
In some complicated divorce cases with significant assets at stake, it may also become necessary to hire experts, including forensic accountants to try to trace financial transactions and develop an accurate assessment of the assets that the couple owns.
An experienced attorney can help those getting a divorce to ensure that they get their fair share of money, property and assets earned or acquired during the marriage.
Contact Bertolino LLP at 512-717-5432 or visit https://www.belolaw.com to schedule a consultation with a divorce lawyer today.