Almost invariably, divorcing couples facing the property division process focus first on the physical assets they’ve accumulated during the marriage. From the marital home and shared vehicles to vacation properties and a family business, the division of these assets requires a significant portion of attention. Further, the couple will also carefully examine any shared debt to arrive at a beneficial compromise regarding future responsibility. Unfortunately, one aspect of marital property couples often overlook until later is accumulation of digital assets.
Digital assets, or online assets, are those properties that typically lack a physical form. They live online, in cloud storage or on a computer hard drive. Common examples can include:
- An entertainment collection: Over the last two decades, individuals have taken to building entertainment collections online rather than devoting a storage cabinet to their physical forms. People can now download music, movies, books and video games to be enjoyed directly from a digital device. These entertainment collections generally carry significant value that the divorcing couple must divide.
- An online business: While a brick-and-mortar business might seem like an obvious topic of property division discussions, what of an online business? Whether in the form of a Facebook Marketplace, eBay or another popular platform, the couple will likely have devoted significant time and effort into cultivating an online presence, a customer history and vendor relationships. The couple must reach a compromise regarding the division and future ownership of the online storefront.
- Online shopper rewards: Digital retailers face a crowded marketplace. To this end, they often offer repeat shopper rewards, program discounts, cash back bonuses or points accumulated toward physical prizes. The couple must carefully examine rewards accumulated during the marriage to see who owns them going forward.
Through the divorce process, the couple faces significant stress and worry while building two independent futures. From property division and spousal support to debt responsibility and parenting time, the divorcing couple must navigate several potentially heated compromises. The couple should focus on digital assets earlier rather than later.