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Bitcoin raises issues of asset concealment in divorce

Bitcoin has created a new way for spouses to hide assets from one another during divorce, adding another potential stumbling block during the property division process. Virtual currencies like Bitcoin are relatively anonymous because they exist independently of banks, making them difficult to trace back to an individual.

When it comes to dividing assets during a Minnesota divorce, state law requires that a couple's money, property and other valuables should be inventoried and divided according to a principle known as equity, or fairness. But when one spouse tries to hide assets from the other, using digital money or any other tactic, the whole process can be thrown off and produce an unfair result. 

Guarding against asset concealment is one reason why it is important to work closely with an attorney during a divorce. A lawyer with experience locating hidden assets will ask questions, request documentation and examine testimony to get a thorough understanding of each spouse's financial circumstances. If necessary, he or she will take additional steps to locate hidden assets, such as filing subpoenas to obtain information from banks or investment accounts.

Needless to say, hiding money or other assets during divorce is illegal, but it can and does still happen on occasion. Sometimes people hide assets during divorce because they sincerely feel justified in doing so, while in other cases they do it out of spite or general selfishness. Regardless of the reasons, a spouse who is found to have intentionally concealed assets during divorce in Minnesota can face harsh sanctions.

Source: CNBC, “Bitcoin could be used to hide assets in divorces, warn lawyers,” Jane Croft, June 3, 2014

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