Dividing up Digital Assets

Divorce is never a pleasant prospect, but most of us know how it works. We've seen enough people go through it on TV and in the movies to know that one of the biggest challenges is dividing up assets. Who gets the car? Who gets the house? Who gets the ugly wagon wheel coffee table?

However, dividing up assets has become increasingly complicated in the last several years as more and more couples invest in “digital assets.” What exactly are these, and how do you go about dividing them up in a divorce?

Just What are Digital Assets?

A digital asset might be defined as any service or holding that only exists in a digital form. Often, many people forget about these assets when going through a divorce because they're...well...virtual. That doesn't mean, though, that they don't have value.

Most of us would probably recognize the value of Bitcoin holdings, even though cryptocurrency only exists in digital form. We might not think about what we've invested in our iTunes library, though, an amount that for some audiophiles can be significant. Digital book libraries, movie libraries, game libraries—all of these are assets. 

Social media accounts, virtual storefronts, even domain names can also have value. How long has it taken you to gather two thousand followers on Twitter, for instance, and what is the value of how you leverage those followers for sales at your Gastonia boutique?

Some couples are heavily invested in virtual spaces like Second Life or Fortnite, where virtual money can have real-world monetary value. One Entropia game player paid six million dollars in 2010 to buy a virtual planet. You read that right. Deciding who winds up with that in the divorce isn't a simple matter.

What are the Options?

How exactly do you deal with digital assets in a divorce then? In some cases, you may be able to divide them. Many airlines, for instance, allow customers to transfer frequent flyer miles to another person. 

In most other cases, digital assets work much like physical or other monetary assets. 

  • First and foremost, take an inventory. Don't forget about your digital belongings.
  • Next, value these items. What monetary value might they have?
  • Then create a list of which items mean the most to you and which you could probably live without.
  • Finally, share this list with your attorney so it can be dealt with, along with all your other assets, through mediation.

Most importantly, don't assume you can simply change the passwords on your accounts and lock your spouse out. Ultimately, this can lead to even greater legal complications in the long run.

What to Look for in a Divorce Lawyer

Divorces are never simple matters, and as the world continues to change, they will only get more complicated. Make sure you look for an attorney who understands those changes and their impacts on the law.

For more information, email the Caulder and Valentine law firm at [email protected], or give us a call at (704) 470-2440.